Daryl Morey

With a ‘lot of change' coming, 5 takeaways on Morey's end-of-season press conference 

As Morey noted Monday, change is inevitable for the Sixers this summer.

NBC Universal, Inc.

Before he began fielding questions Monday afternoon, Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey acknowledged the high-stakes decisions ahead. 

“This offseason’s a big one,” Morey said at the Sixers’ training complex in Camden, New Jersey. “I owe it to the fans, to ownership, to everybody to get this team to a place where we’re competing for championships, and we obviously didn’t achieve that this year. But we’re very well-situated to use all the tools — trade, free agency, draft — to upgrade the team. 

“We’re going to put every single effort into that. (Head coach Nick Nurse) is going to be right there with us. Besides our two great players, we think we have one of the best coaches in the league and we’re excited for the offseason.”

Here are five items that stood out from Morey’s press conference: 

You can count on change 

As he wrapped up a response about the 2024 NBA draft class, Morey highlighted how little is set in stone for the Sixers.

The team holds the 16th and 41st picks in the draft. Superstar center Joel Embiid remains under contract and Most Improved Player winner Tyrese Maxey is eligible for a five-year max extension. Paul Reed and Ricky Council IV have non-guaranteed contracts. Jeff Dowtin Jr. has a club option for the 2024-25 season.

“As you might expect, we have all options on the table,” Morey said of the draft, “(including) trade into the future so that we can keep more picks available for future trades. If we do pick, I’m excited about who’s there. We could trade back, pick up a player. I do like having a good core of young players. I feel like we’re developing that with Paul and Ricky Council. … I do think you want to have a few young players who are pushing your vets. 

“But we’re mostly going to be a veteran-laden team after an offseason where there’s going to be a lot of change. Except for Nick Nurse, Joel, Tyrese, Paul and Ricky, we don’t know for sure who’s going to be back next year.”

Wanting a wing 

In a spot where vagueness wouldn’t have been surprising at all, Morey was relatively specific about what he views as the Sixers’ largest need next to their Embiid-Maxey core. 

“I would say the biggest need is not at their position — someone at the wing who can play and deliver at a high level in the playoffs,” Morey said. “That’s the biggest need.”

There are clearly many players who might fall under that description. The Sixers have been heavily linked to nine-time All-Star Paul George, who can decline his $48.8 million player option with the Clippers and become a free agent. Morey tends to have interest in just about any star who might be available.

George turned 34 years old a few days ago. Morey indicated the Sixers weigh many variables in the team-building process and won’t be strongly deterred by age alone. 

“You have to factor in everything, including age. … If anything, the direction of the arrow on age has been that it’s less of an impact than it has been in the past,” he said. “Look, that’s what I mean by you can’t prescribe or proscribe anything and say, ‘Oh we’ve now figured it out.’ … It was 100 percent being written for a while that you don’t need bigs. You need lots of switchable wings and you’re going to be fine. And now that’s gone. 

“My point is it’s never about that. It’s always about get the best players you can, get a great coach, figure out how to win with that set of players, and then go win the damn thing. It’s not about, ‘Hey, this new thing is exactly how everyone …’ We do know you want to be able to shoot more. I think we’ve learned that. That one’s a long trend, going for a long time. But other than that, I don’t see many rules that tell you how to build a contender.” 

Still a star-driven league 

Given Maxey’s rise to All-Star status and Embiid’s immense dominance when healthy, one could reasonably argue that the Sixers don’t need to be chase hard after another star. 

Morey has a different perspective. 

“We definitely look at fit,” he said. “We’re not really focused, necessarily, on the exact bucket, whether it’s max (contract), role player or whatever. We’re focused on getting the best players within the CBA constraints. … Generally, historically, having top players works better. 

“Just to talk about storylines, everyone’s like, ‘Oh, it’s the teams with depth that win!’ Well, of course you go back a little bit and you have recent teams that won without much depth, like the Lakers recently. You have teams without continuity that have won recently. We’re not going to have continuity. Hopefully we’ll have continuity going forward a little better. We’ll have continuity with our stars and our head coach. But we’re going to have a lot of change this offseason. 

“So it’s good that recent teams like the Lakers, like Toronto, like the Milwaukee Bucks — who made big changes the year they won the title — they didn’t have a ton of continuity those years. … There isn’t a formula. Everyone wants to find a pattern and there isn’t one. The pattern is have really good players and have them (be) better than all the teams you’re going to play.” 

Any team centered around three big-money players needs to be savvy about its surrounding pieces. 

Morey cited the example of Kelly Oubre Jr., who signed a minimum-salary deal with the Sixers late last offseason and went on to play 37.3 minutes per game in the playoffs. 

“I like having the challenge,” Morey said, “finding the guys that are overlooked — the Kelly Oubres of the world. Getting a Kyle Lowry, guys like that. I like that challenge. I think that’s something that the front office is very good at. … I think generally, the history of the NBA would favor — even with the new CBA — get studs who can then put the work and the onus on the front office to find the players that fit around (them).” 

Hield pickup not what Morey expected 

Speaking of Oubre: Would Morey like to bring the lefty wing back for more than a single season? 

“We have interest in pretty much all our free agents,” he said. “It’s just we’re definitely not going to bring them all back; it’s just the reality of the league. 

“Kelly was one that was such a breath of fresh air, played so hard, won over the city — which isn’t easy. He gave us really key minutes in the regular season and the playoffs, so he’s definitely someone that we have interest in.” 

During the NBA’s last dealmaking window, Morey’s main addition was Buddy Hield. A few months later, Hield is among that extensive list of internal free agents. He said after scoring 20 points off the bench in the Sixers’ Game 6 loss to the Knicks that he’d “like to be in Philly again.”

Hield only played five regular-season games and one play-in tournament win alongside Embiid. He then entered the first NBA playoffs of his career, and they did not start well. Hield shot 1 for 7 from the field over Games 1 through 3 against the Knicks and was outside the Sixers’ rotation for Games 4 and 5.

Morey was candid about Hield not helping the Sixers as much as he’d envisioned.

“I think, (through) no fault of Buddy’s, the fit was less good than I thought,” he said. “Obviously most of his time was without Joel. But I thought when Joel was back, that his impact and his shooting … that he’d get more open shots. He didn’t. And so that’s on me that it didn’t work out as well as we hoped.

“I still think it was one of the better (deadline) acquisitions. I was really happy he showed what he could do in Game 6. … But there was no one more disappointed than him that he fell out of the rotation. I think Nick correctly saw, based on how they were guarding us, that it was hard for him to impact the game. 

“And then, when they changed up how they were guarding us, he did show what he can do. But yeah, I think Kyle Lowry and Cam Payne, both of them really added to the team. They were able to add at a high level. And then Buddy, it just didn’t quite work as well as we had hoped. But I do think going forward, it still could work, depending on the other players that are around Joel and Tyrese.”

‘I think it's important to support the dreams of your best player’ 

Coming off another postseason in which he gutted through health issues, Embiid has the Paris Olympics on deck this summer. He’s one of 12 stars on the roster for the Team USA men, whose first group game is July 28 vs. Serbia.

Morey was asked whether he has any concerns about Embiid participating in the Olympics. 

“I mean, the way the NBA has it set up, it’s not even a decision for the team,” he said. “I know for Joel, I was lucky enough to be at his celebration when he became a U.S. citizen. He’s incredibly proud to be a U.S. citizen. It’s a dream of his to represent the United States in the Olympics. I think it’s important to support the dreams of your best player. I understand the questions. I understand that there are folks that could have an opinion on the other side on that. 

“But first off, it’s not even in our hands. Second off, we would always support Joel in something that important to him, and I think it's cool … that’s one of the dreams he’s had since he became a citizen.”

Contact Us