Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Denver news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Des Moines news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Minneapolis-St. Paul news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tampa Bay news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Charlotte news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

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.

OIG: HHS misused millions of dollars intended for public health threats

Vaccine vials. Photo: Punit Paranjpe/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel alerted the White House and Congress on Wednesday of an investigation that found the Department of Health and Human Services misused millions of dollars that were budgeted for vaccine research and public health emergencies for Ebola, Zika and now the COVID-19 pandemic.

Why it matters: The more than 200-page investigation corroborated claims from a whistleblower, showing the agency's violation of the Purpose Statute spanned both the Obama and Trump administrations and paid for unrelated projects like salaries, news subscriptions and the removal of office furniture.

John Kerry: U.S.-China climate cooperation is a "critical standalone issue"

President Biden's special climate envoy John Kerry said Wednesday that the U.S. must deal with China on climate change as a "critical standalone issue," but stressed that confronting Beijing's human rights and trade abuses "will never be traded" for climate cooperation.

Why it matters: The last few years have brought about a bipartisan consensus on the threat posed by China. But as the world's largest greenhouse gas emitter, China will be a vital player if the world is going to come close to reining in emissions on the scale needed to meet the Paris Agreement goals of limiting warming to 2°C above pre-industrial levels.