Daryl Morey has executed more trades than just about any executive in the NBA, including seven just this season. His biggest coup was acquiring James Harden in 2012 (as well as Cole Adrich, Daequan Cook, and Lazar Hayward) for Jeremy Lamb, Kevin Martin, and three draft picks that eventually became Steven Adams, Alex Abrines, and Mitch McGary.
Getting Harden changed the course of the Rockets franchise, and the rewards of it are still being felt today. That’s what made it so surprising to hear the Houston general manager assign greater praise to a different deal he made.
At the trade deadline in 2009, the Rockets acquired Kyle Lowry and Brian Cook in a three-team trade that sent Rafer Alston to Orlando, and Adonal Foyle, Mike Wilks, and an Orlando first-round draft pick (used to select DeMarre Carroll) to Memphis. The Houston portion of that trade was essentially a swap of Alston for Lowry.
In Kevin Arnovitz’s opus about the stat-defying Lowry, Morey is quoted saying, “I still consider that to be our finest trade.”
Lowry played three mostly forgettable seasons for the Rockets, who only made the playoffs once during his tenure, although there were signs of the efficiency maven he was to become. Ultimately, his greatest contribution to Houston was fetching a first-round pick in a trade to Toronto that was later used in the Harden deal.
Nevertheless, Morey remains fond of the bulldog of a point guard whose contributions beyond the box score made him an undervalued player. Perhaps it’s that same tendency to overlook Lowry that prevents the rest of the league from viewing that 2009 trade the way Morey does.