Daryl Morey thinks of himself as Macklemore and Ryan Lewis

At first glance, this tweet is merely amusing in its sentiment and delivery. Daryl Morey likes a popular song! A song with rap! And cursing!

OK. I can admit it. I love this music video from Macklemore youtube.com/watch?v=QK8mJJ… — “Ice on the fringe, it’s so damn frosty!” #NSFW

— Daryl Morey (@dmorey) January 9, 2013

Sorry for stereotyping, but the reserved Romney-funding Morey would not seem to be the demographic for “Thrift Shop.” He even tweets it as some kind of confessional, almost as though he’s embarrassed to like what he does. There’s more here, though, in my opinion. The lyric Morey tweets says a lot about why the song might appeal to the NBA’s Moneyball representative: ”Ice on the fringe, it’s so damn frosty!”

The song, if you haven’t heard it, is about Macklemore’s predilection for finding and flaunting the coolest clothes at a discount. The idea is that, even though these accoutrements got discarded by society, they still possess the ability to dazzle in the right setting.

Macklemore also finger wags at the people who mindlessly blow their money on brand name items like a Gucci shirt:

“I call that getting tricked by a business That shirt’s hella dough And having the same one as six other people in this club is a hella don’t”

In essence, it’s a song about bargain hunting, a theme with obvious resonance for a bargain hunting NBA General Manger like Daryl Morey. I think that’s an over simplification, though.

The song exults in the face of group think. To outshine your peers by using perceived trash, you must be embracing a message more subversive than merely “bargain hunting is good.” You have to believe that your peers make dumb decisions based on the arbitrary whims of conventional wisdom and its labels.

Macklemore and Morey

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Daryl Morey and Houston’s Big Freed Three

I can’t remember another NBA moment where a team added three players whose contracts were so openly questioned. Jeremy Lin? A flash in the pan that reflected brighter under those New York lights. Omer Asik? You’re entrusting $25 million to a guy who can’t catch a basketball? Are you an idiot or just stupid? And James Harden, man, I don’t know about him. He just doesn’t strike ya as ya know, a number one guy. An Alpha Dog. The MAN. If he’s your No. 1, you’re never winning anything. You’re seriously going to max out a reserve?

In paying all three, Daryl Morey trusted something quite simple; He trusted what they did. Because, James Harden, Jeremy Lin, and Omer Asik were tangibly good when they played. These guys were doing decent work out in public. It was just a matter of someone trusting that public track record. We’re only three games in, but it would appear, at the very least, that Daryl Morey wasn’t a complete fool for going this route.

It would be ironic if stats-conscious Morey found value in ignoring small sample size concerns. Jeremy Lin’s critics fairly cite his too-brief track record, though some of them will ironically harp on Lin’s one Miami game as more meaningful than the body of work. It is difficult to know just how good Jeremy Lin will be, but we would do well to remember that his late winter success was the result of basketball skill, and not some fairy godmother’s wand wave. Just because “Linsanity!” felt magical, doesn’t mean it was magic. This was just a productive collegian, running a mean pick and roll at the next level.

Players like Lin are always battling against another statistical term–confirmation bias. If  a guy goes undrafted, we keep looking for

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Daryl Morey’s blameless failure

Daryl Morey trades Chase Budinger in a typically Morey move. Budinger was taken with the 44th pick; today he’s dealt for an 18th pick. With trades like this, Houston’s GM can appear like Bigfoot, the inventively frugal restaurant manager from Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential. On the margins, Morey is a master.

So, I come not to question Daryl Morey’s wisdom, assiduousness, or even his decision-making. I come to question his effectiveness. He took over in May of 2007 and the Rockets have won one playoff series since. You can’t point to one monumental Morey choice that threw the team off course (perhaps Stern’s veto is an exterior one), but here Houston is, floating along lukewarm NBA waters like an aimless, harmless manatee.

I present a paradox. If a general manager has made largely good decisions, then how can you possibly criticize him?  Morey has wrung quite a lot from seemingly mediocre rosters. That superstarless 22-win streak is the most notable example. There have been a few miststeps along the way, but that’s not even my focus here.

I point to David Aldridge’s recent report that Dwight Howard would not sign with Houston long term, were the Rockets to trade for him. Morey is still probably in hot pursuit of the capricious center, despite the cold shoulder. Dwight might change his mind, but Chris Bosh won’t. Too late for that, obviously, as the 2010 object of Morey’s affections is on contract in South Beach, title in tow.

Morey pitched Chris Bosh on returning to Texas roots, but lost out to Pat Riley’s ambitious plan. Riley may not be an analytics maven, but he flaunts charisma and NBA cachet. This is the element of general managing we usually elide when fantasizing about being a GM: You must be something of a

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