The Philadelphia 76ers are expected to hire Daryl Morey, former general manager of the Houston Rockets, to lead the front office and basketball operations, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. This comes just a couple of weeks after the 76ers already hired former Los Angeles Clippers head coach Doc Rivers for the same role. The 76ers, already having a talented roster, look determined to transform their play after last season’s disappointing playoffs performance.
Philadelphia 76ers Expected to Hire Daryl Morey
Current Philadelphia 76ers Roster
The 76ers roster includes two of the best players in the game – Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. They’re perennial All-Stars and amongst the best at their positions. As great as that looks on paper, the two are yet to form the chemistry required to be considered true contenders.
Three other very talented players call Philadelphia home. They are Tobias Harris, Al Horford, and Josh Richardson. Harris has the talent to be the third-best player on a great team, but currently gets paid as a first-option. He’s going to get paid a base salary of over $34 million next season.
Horford, on the other hand, is clearly in a decline. After a terrific stint with the Boston Celtics, the 76ers handed him a four-year, $109 million contract. He averaged roughly 12 points and 7 rebounds per game and was ultimately benched before Simmons’ injury. At 34-years-old, he is now a liability.
Richardson provides solid value for his salary of just under $11 million.
Shake Milton and Matisse Thybulle are great young bench options. The rest of the 76ers’ bench is subpar at best. Philadelphia will have two key free agents this offseason in Alec Burks and Glenn Robinson III.
One thing the 76ers sorely lacked last season was shooting, and that was ultimately their downfall. The modern game, and more specifically Morey’s game, greatly relies on the three-point shot so this is an issue that must be addressed this offseason.
Although Morey’s teams have yet to win a championship, they’ve largely been considered contenders for much of the past decade. This is due, in large part, to what is dubbed “Moreyball.” Moreyball, quite simply, is Morey’s philosophy on analytics and taking the most efficient shots possible. This means a barrage of three-point shots and attacking the basket rather than mid-range jumpers.
This offensive philosophy worked because of James Harden. Arguably the most talented offensive player in the league, Harden shot what seemed like as many three-pointers as possible a game, but he is also fantastic at driving to the basket and making lay-ups. Russell Westbrook brought a similar skillset to Houston, but not nearly as refined as Harden’s.
This presents somewhat of an issue for the 76ers. Their main ballhandler, Simmons, can’t shoot. He’s an unconventional ball-handler in that aspect, mostly due to his size. He’s agile and quick, is a triple-double machine, and can defender any player on the floor. Those are great qualities, but Moreyball calls for high-scoring shooters at the guard positions.
Embiid’s fit is also something to take a look at. There’s no denying that he’s one of the best centers and defensive players in the league. With this being said, he thrives in the paint more so than being out on the perimeter. Although he can shoot at a decent rate, he’s better suited in a more traditional center role. The Dwight Howard experiment didn’t work in Houston, so it will be interesting to see what happens with Embiid.
Moreyball, at it’s best, also needs “three-and-d” wings and electric guards off the bench. The 76ers will have to work on this.
Hypothetical Moves for the Philadelphia 76ers and Daryl Morey
The bottom line is that Morey doesn’t have to structure a roster built for his style of play. Harden made it work, and in return, it also maximized his strengths. Simmons and Embiid can still make for a fantastic duo, and Morey could easily opt to keeping them and improving the roster around them.
With that being said, Morey loves to make moves, and there are plenty of options at his disposal in what should be a very interesting offseason.
Unloading Horford needs to be a priority. He’s not the player he used to be and his salary is a major burden. Morey can work the phones and try to offer Horford for some of his Rockets favorites in Eric Gordon and P.J. Tucker. Disgruntled Sacramento Kings guard Buddy Hield is likely to be available for trade, and the Kings need frontcourt help. Hield is the kind of high-volume shooter Morey likes.
Harris brings more value to the 76ers than Horford, so his contract doesn’t seem as bad. Last season, however, Harris was tied for the 11th highest salary in the league, getting paid more than his two teammates in Embiid and Simmons and more than superstars like Damian Lillard and Giannis Antetokounmpo. That says enough. Harris doesn’t have to be moved – he’s decent on both sides of the floor- but his salary hurts.
Morey can call the Kings again. Harris can be offered in a deal for Hield, but also in one for Harrison Barnes. Barnes is still talented and gets paid plenty less than Harris.
The Chicago Bulls are another potential destination. Often-injured forward Otto Porter fits Morey’s style of play, and the Bulls may want to replace him with a more reliable small forward.
After getting both Morey, there will surely be rumors swirling around about Harden and Westbrook in Philadelphia. It’s not impossible, but it’s hard to imagine either happening. The Rockets likely do not want to part ways with a perennial MVP candidate in Harden, and Westbrook was ultimately Morey’s last big move before leaving Houston.
The 76ers are below-average when it comes to shooters, and lack bench depth. Free agency is the perfect way to fix this. Although there isn’t a star-studded class this offseason, there’s plenty of player available that can improve this team.
They have to consider bringing Burks back. He averaged 15 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists per game last season on 38.5 percent three-point shooting. He’s a valuable piece. Another great addition can be Justin Holiday. He can play shooting guard and small forward and shot over 40 percent from three last season.
A few other guards to consider are Jordan McRae, Kyle Korver, Kent Bazemore, Shabazz Napier, and Austin Rivers if he declines his player option with the Rockets.
A couple of “three-and-d” wing candidates include Jeff Green and Maurice Harkless. Thybulle, and Burks if he returns, provide the same.
Lastly, if Horford is traded, the 76ers need more frontcourt depth. Kyle O’Quinn can depart in free agency, and the team needs more than Mike Scott and Norvel Pelle. Realistic options include Markieff Morris, JaMychal Green, and Gary Clark.
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