Daryl Morey was unsure of landing Dwight Howard as a free agent in 2013, so he reached out to the Mavs for a Dirk Nowitzki trade.
We’ve all heard about how some NBA GMs are wily operators. The likes of Masai Ujiri, Sam Presti and Danny Ainge, among others, have established themselves as master traders.
Daryl Morey stock may be running low due to the Ben Simmons conundrum at the moment, but make no mistake. The former Rockets and current Sixers President of Basketball Operations can be trusted to get as optimal a solution as possible.
He was the only GM who dared to tool up and try to beat the Warriors at their own game. The Rockets were some of the league’s best teams led by James Harden from 2016-2019. The sheer volume of that challenge dwarfs this temporary standoff by a humongous margin.
With regards to this, we look back at one of the moments when Morey was fully in speculatory mode.
“You’re not getting Dwight Howard, can you trade us Dirk Nowitzki?”: Daryl Morey to Mavs FO in 2013
NBA Reddit reflected recently on the tendencies of the Sixers’ POBO, reminiscing about his activity in 2013. A poster dug up an old article from CBS Sports that discusses the scenario in the Rockets’ front office at the time.
Bob Myers and the Warriors’ FO had landed one of the deals of the summer in landing Andre Iguodala. This move had Morey worried that Dwight Howard would be swayed to sign with Golden State.
To keep a backup plan in place, Morey contacted Mark Cuban to explore the possibility of acquiring Dirk Nowitzki. The long-time NBA executive detailed this at an MIT Sloan Analytics Conference:
“I was like, ‘Well, you’re not getting Dwight Howard. Can you trade us Dirk Nowitzki? It was a bad moment for me. Mark thought I was taunting him.”
As it turned out, Howard had already informed Dallas that he was looking to sign elsewhere. Cuban felt Morey was trying to rub it in on him. But the two have evidently mended the fences, as is evident from their transactions in the years since.