How Morey's philosophy on championship windows influenced Sixers' deadline


The Sixers want to win now — and they are presently. 

Thursday night’s victory over the Lakers gave them 10 wins in 11 games (six of seven since Joel Embiid suffered a left knee bone bruise) and a two-game lead at the top of the Eastern Conference.

Still, president of basketball operations Daryl Morey did not chuck a heaping pile of chips on the 2020-21 table. He’s developed his own philosophy about championship windows through his years as an NBA dealmaker, and he likes to stick to those principles.

“I look a lot at championship probability, and so it really comes down to this move will increase our odds to win the title this year a certain amount, but we’ll give up stuff that will lower our odds to win in the future,” Morey said Thursday night. “We try to balance that so we’re maximizing that — obviously giving more weight to the current year, but I’m always looking at a three-ish, two- to four-year time horizon and trying to maximize their odds. I think (head coach Doc Rivers) and (general manager Elton Brand) and myself, we’re hoping to have a very long run here. We have some amazing players in their prime. 

“What I’m trying to do is maximize our chance of winning the title over that window with more weight (on) this year. If there’s a move that ups it a little bit this year but really hurts our odds in the future, then that doesn’t make sense; we’re actually hurting our chance to win the title overall. If it’s a move that ups our odds a decent amount but doesn’t affect our future odds, then that’s a move that looks pretty interesting. I think this move very materially increased our championship odds and also kept our ones in the future preserved at a very high level.”

The move Morey thought met his criteria was a three-team trade with the Thunder and Knicks that sent 34-year-old guard George Hill to Philadelphia, as well as second-year forward Ignas Brazdeikis. The team gave up second-round picks in 2021, 2025 and 2026, the Heat’s top-55 protected 2024 second-rounder, center Tony Bradley and two non-rotation players in Terrance Ferguson and Vincent Poirier. 

Bradley can become a restricted free agent this offseason. Hill has a $10 million salary for the 2021-22 season, with only about $1.3 million guaranteed. 

Indeed, it would be difficult to contend that the Sixers on Thursday drastically decreased their odds of winning a championship over the next two to four seasons. Hill’s résumé — capable on both ends of the floor with an abundance of big-game experience, to put it succinctly — suggests he should help the Sixers’ chances this year.  

In Morey’s mind, the above wasn’t the case for other potential trades. Though he’s known for exploring options, he said there weren't a plethora of realistic deals for the Sixers’ front office to ponder. 

“(The market) felt a little less, but I can’t really tell because you get so caught up in your own team and upgrading your own team that I don’t really think about the bigger market too often,” he said. “For us, it felt a little less. I think some of that is we’re playing so well, people knew we probably weren’t going to trade any of our key players out.  A lot of the possible deals you might have for future draft picks or compensation for players aren’t on the table and other teams don’t even call you. 

“In terms of possible options, for material upgrades we felt like there were really only two to three, with George being one of those. That feels like less than normal. It does feel like there were less things we were focused on. Part of that is it’s just really hard to upgrade a team that’s on pace to win, in a normal year, 55 to 65 games. That’s not easy to find upgrades, generally.’

So, what about Kyle Lowry, who Morey traded for as Rockets general manager back in 2009? According to multiple reports, the Raptors had dialogue with the Sixers, Heat and Lakers. Toronto decided to keep its six-time All-Star, the Sixers retained their best young players (including Matisse Thybulle, whose exceptional defensive skills could be valuable this postseason), and Morey sounded confident that the team took the proper approach. 

“I can’t specifically address a player on another team,” Morey said. “Obviously, at the trade deadline you have lots of options, a lot of speculation on options that were out there. All I can say is we’re very excited about the option we ended up with. Frankly, I think we did the deal about two hours before the deadline. We took an option that we thought really upgraded our team this year on both ends and at the same time kept all our optionality alive in the future.

“If George Hill becomes the integral part of this team we think he will, we have the option to keep him and not have him go to free agency. We also kept all our important assets to upgrade the team going forward. So we felt good about this option. It allows us to really upgrade the team for the playoffs wars to come and at the same time, keep all our bullets if an option in the future becomes available.”

More on Sixers' trade deadline 

Contact Us