Rockets GM Daryl Morey is done with Charles Barkley

Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey, the founder of the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, spoke to CNBC on a range of hoops-related issues from the conference on Friday. Here's the breakdown:

Charles Barkley

Recently, NBA legend Charles Barkley and Morey got into a public spat about the prevalence of analytics in sports. "The folks who are skeptics are setting up a straw man," Morey said about Barkley and other anti-analytics critics. He likened their arguments to saying that "if you are using data for making decisions then you are somehow against people and talent, and obviously that's not the case."

"It works. Analytics helps you make better decisions, it helps you win. It's that simple." As for the Barkley dust-up: "I think I've said what I'm going to say on that."

Charles Barkley (L) and Daryl Morey (R).
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Charles Barkley (L) and Daryl Morey (R).

The Tanking Sixers: Innovators?

The Philadelphia 76ers have taken the most extreme strategy ever seen in building a long-term winner. Their record this year is an atrocious 12-45, after an equally horrible 19-63 campaign last season. Yet their intentional short-term tanking is supposed to have a purpose: accumulating draft picks and salary cap space to build a contender down the road. Morey claimed the Sixers "passed" the Rockets in terms of innovation, putting his Rockets at "No. 2." He said Sixers GM Sam Hinkie, who used to work under Morey, is "doing what made the most sense given their starting position. They need to get a league talent and he's executing a great plan to do it." Not everyone feels that way. Some people have called for the NBA to disallow such strategies by changing the draft lottery rules, for example. Los Angeles Lakers co-owner Jeannie Buss referred to their strategy as "unforgivable."

Rockets' Title Hopes

The Rockets have been building for years toward a championship, and this season represents their best shot to get it done, with a 39-18 record in the tough Western Conference. "We are the fourth-best team in the league, but we haven't had Dwight Howard most of the year." Morey suggested that Howard's return will be the key difference in getting them over the hump: "With Dwight back, we are right there with any team in the league."

The Future of Analytics in Sports

After sports such as baseball and basketball led the way in their usage of sports analytics, hockey and football have started to catch up. Morey said soccer is the next big frontier, "the biggest for sure." He points out that "the data is getting better," but the "culture is even worse than baseball when it first started" in regards to how skeptical the soccer establishment is to accept analytics as a tool.