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Daryl Morey (L) and Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta. Photo: Tim Warner/Getty Images

Daryl Morey, the Rockets GM since 2007, has decided to step down, according to a report from ESPN.

Why it matters: With head coach Mike D'Antoni stepping down last month, one of the NBA's most reliably competitive franchises is suddenly in disarray.

The backdrop: Morey's final season became engulfed in scrutiny after a tweet supporting Hong Kong protesters led to China taking the NBA off its airwaves for a year. It finally returned during last week's Finals.

What they're saying: "Morey is not the only analytics-savvy person to assume a position of enormous power within an NBA team. But he was the forerunner," ESPN writes.

  • "His influence on the game — on the rise of the 3-pointer, the advance of metrics to evaluate defense, hiring patterns within teams, much more — has been massive."
  • "It is reasonable to argue NBA basketball is both more mathematically efficient and (with some teams) less interesting to watch because of Morey."

By the numbers: Morey never led Houston to a title, and critics would say he overvalued style and efficiency at the expense of chemistry and culture. But his Rockets were always competitive. In fact, they never had a single losing season.

  • 77 trades: That's how many Morey made in Houston. Only Philadelphia (78 trades), whose former GM Sam Hinkie was Morey's protégé, made more.
  • .615 winning percentage: Only the Spurs had more wins than the Rockets during Morey's tenure.
  • 8 straight trips: Houston has the league's longest active playoff streak, dating back to the 2012-13 season.

Go deeper

Dec 21, 2020 - Podcasts

Milwaukee Bucks owner: NBA teams will lose money this season

The NBA tips off tomorrow night, making it the first major U.S. sports league to play a second season amidst the pandemic. No bubble this time, but also not many in-person fans.

Axios Re:Cap talks with Milwaukee Bucks co-owner Marc Lasry on the business of basketball, how much he expects to lose this season and that massive new deal for two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo.

"Atmospheric river" swings Northern California from drought to flood

The bomb cyclone and atmospheric river seen via satellite on Sunday. The center of the storm is at the middle of the comma shape, due west of Washington State. (CIRA/RAMMB)

A series of powerful "atmospheric river" storms are delivering historic amounts of rainfall across parts of drought-stricken California and the Pacific Northwest from this weekend, forecasters warn.

Why it matters: A strong atmospheric river, packing large amounts of moisture, is predicted to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood.

Mike Allen, author of AM
5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Fauci fires back at Rand Paul for slam on tonight's "Axios on HBO"

Responding to charges by Sen. Rand Paul on Sunday's "Axios on HBO," NIAID director Anthony Fauci told "ABC This Week" that it's "molecularly impossible" for U.S.-funded bat virus research in China to have produced COVID-19.

Why it matters: The issue 0f Wuhan research was reignited on the right last week with a National Institutes of Health letter to Congress disclosing more about the research.