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Tuesday September 23, 2008 7:42 PM

Q&A With Daryl Morey


Rockets' GM provides the latest information on Landry, Mutombo and more

Jason Friedman
Rockets.com Staff Writer

HOUSTON - Hard to believe, but the start of training camp is less than one week away. So to fill you in on all the lingering questions regarding the team, Rockets.com sat down for an exclusive chat Tuesday evening with GM Daryl Morey.

JCF: Well, the first question is pretty obvious: What's the latest on the unsigned guys like Joey Dorsey and Carl Landry?

DM: Joey is close to signing. By the end of the week, we should have that finished. We're looking forward to having him join. It will likely be a long-term deal that keeps him here for a good stretch.

With Carl, we have a fair offer out there and we're hoping he takes it.

JCF: And how about Dikembe?

DM: Yeah, no update on Dikembe right now.

JCF: What's the latest with Maarty Leunen?

DM: Maarty's going to sign in Turkey with a team associated with Efes Pilsen. It will be a good situation for him; he'll be playing good competition and it will help him develop overseas. And just like all our recent international players, if it looks like they're going to be ready, all of them are available to come over the next offseason.

JCF: Have you got your training camp roster finalized yet?

DM: We're still evaluating who's definitely going to be here. I think some folks who are likely coming in and competing for a spot are Von Wafer and Marcus Campbell. Those two are going to be fighting for a spot on the team.

JCF: What about Damon Stoudamire?

DM: I think both Damon Stoudamire and Darrell Armstrong are talking about coming in to camp. Whether or not we bring them is still to be determined.

JCF: Can you speak to whether or not they'll have a legitimate chance to make the team?

DM: Well, I think a lot of the chance for them to make the team is dependent on Carl and Dikembe and their status.

JCF: One of our readers wants to know: If the best case scenario occurs and the Rockets have a great playoff run, with Ron Artest playing a major role in that, will the team have the ability to sign him to a new deal given its current salary cap situation?

DM: Yeah, we'll have his Bird rights and the ability to sign him. At his request, they want to wait until after the season to have discussions, so we're honoring that. But we do have the inside advantage to re-sign him if we choose to do that.

JCF: Obviously, the Rockets have assembled a team with a lot of depth this season. On paper at least, there's an awful lot to like about this roster. But when critics start looking for flaws, they typically point the finger at the point guard spot. Is it fair to say that position is the biggest area of concern heading into the new season?

DM: Well I'd say what I always say: I think relative to our competition in the West - while we feel like we've got good players at the position - it is the position where there's the biggest gap between a Chris Paul and where we are. I would say it's no more or less a concern than it was last year. In fact, we probably feel a little bit better about it this year than last. We feel good about Rafer as a starter. With Aaron going into his second year, we see him stepping up. We see Brent playing some minutes there as well. So we actually feel better about it this year than we did last year.

JCF: What about Yao and his progress? I know coach Sikma went over to China to work with Yao a little bit after the Olympics.

DM: Coach Sikma came back very positive as did [Yao's trainer] Anthony Falsone. We had our medical staff over there as well and everyone is feeling great about where Yao's at. He still probably needs to get into game shape in terms of his stamina, but other than that, the repaired foot is responding really well and we're very optimistic that he'll be ready to go.

JCF: And how about Tracy?

DM: Tracy has got some lingering pain in some of the places where he had surgery, but as you saw, he was out playing today and feels pretty good and feels like it's something that's just a minor annoyance and that, even if it didn't go away, he'd play the whole season with it.

JCF: Are you excited about having a big in Joey Dorsey who's suddenly got range from beyond the arc?

DM: (laughs) We like all our players to work on all aspects of their game. Joey's excited about proving himself in all areas, but he also is aware that his main attributes that make him an NBA player are rebounding and defense, so he's focusing on that as well.

JCF: In all seriousness now, how much have you enjoyed seeing Ron Artest out on the practice floor, and how hard he works out there, even in a primarily informal setting?

DM: Yeah, it's fantastic. We've got guys like Mike Harris who bring that intensity as well, but Ron and Brent are two of our veteran leaders out there who - along with Tracy, who's been in a lot as well - have really shown the younger players what it takes for us to accomplish what we want this season. And that starts with a high work ethic and a high level of diligence.

JCF: Do you find it interesting that you used the term "veteran leader" to describe Ron given his reputation and the public's notion of who he is?

DM: Yes, it's interesting. I mean, we had done our research and talked to Indiana, Sacramento and places he'd been before, and people who'd known him, before the trade. So we've probably been less surprised than the public that he's, as people have seen, personable, he works hard and he holds himself to a very high standard in terms of his competitiveness. So we knew all that was the case. The issues he's had in the past have come from his emotions, but not from any sort of foundation that's not extremely positive for winning basketball.

JCF: Okay, last question. I know you're not a complacent person and there are always going to be things floating around your mind that you're dissatisfied with or that are troubling to you. What's your biggest concern now - regarding the Rockets, that is, and not the fact that you're still without power from the hurricane?

DM: (laughs) I can't say. I'll just keep it as my worry and let everyone speculate.

Have a question for Rockets.com? Send it to Jason Friedman via email at: jasonf@rocketball.com.