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Daryl Morey: What the Sixers would look like if he takes over basketball operations

Tom Moore
Bucks County Courier Times
Daryl Morey spent 13 years running the Houston Rockets' basketball operations.

Change is coming to the 76ers.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted Wednesday that the Sixers “are in advanced talks on a deal to hire Daryl Morey to oversee the franchise's basketball operations” and that the move is expected to be finalized in the next few days.

Sixers general manager Elton Brand is expected to remain in his current position, according to Wojnarowski, though he’d be reporting to Morey.

Morey spent 13 years general manager of the Houston Rockets, who made him the first NBA GM to rely heavily on advanced statistical analysis — aka analytics — in 2007.

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Houston reached the Western Conference finals in 2014-15 and 2017-18 after acquiring James Harden from the Thunder. It made the playoffs nine times during Morey’s tenure, never had a losing record and Morey earned NBA Executive of the Year honors in 2017-18.

Morey and the Rockets parted ways earlier this month.

Sam Hinkie was Morey's assistant GM with Houston before taking the Sixers’ job in 2013. Hinkie re-shaped the roster with young players and "tanked" in order to gain high draft picks that allowed Philly to land all-stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. Hinkie resigned in April 2016.

The Sixers went from the analytics-based Hinkie to the more traditional Bryan Colangelo and Brand, and now are returning to an emphasis on analytics.

Morey’s task with the Sixers would be to figure out a way to help new coach Doc Rivers make a core featuring the talented Embiid and Simmons advance past the second round of the playoffs. Brand used up the team’s cap space in July 2019 on a $97 million free agent contract with Al Horford, who struggled alongside Embiid in his first season here, and a $180 million deal to re-sign Tobias Harris, who has not played at an elite level.

The Sixers’ lack of quality 3-point shooters showed in a four-game playoff sweep by the Celtics. Given what analytics show about the increased value of shooting beyond the arc, it’s likely the Sixers will find a way to address that shortcoming in the offseason.

Could the 48-year-old Morey consider trading Embiid or Simmons in order to utilize a lineup with more shooters on the floor? While he's a top-flight center, Embiid doesn't shoot 3s well and Simmons has been reluctant to take jumpers. Both are excellent on defense.

A reunion with Harden might be a reach, but Morey has shown a willingness to trade for stars. He dealt for Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook, in addition to Harden.

The Sixers possess five picks in the Nov. 18 draft, including Nos. 21, 34 and 36, and have the taxpayer mid-level exception ($5.7 million last season). There's also a $1.9 million trade exception, league minimum contracts and trades with which to upgrade.

Morey created a furor in October 2019 with a tweet supporting the Hong Kong protests against China, which resulted in China halting sales of Rockets merchandise. Houston had been extremely popular in China after selecting center Yao Ming No. 1 in the 2002 draft.