It’s been almost a month since the Philadelphia 76ers signed Doc Rivers to be their next head coach. On Oct. 28,ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski delivered the additional breaking news that former Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey is finalizing a deal with the 76ers that will make him the new President of Basketball operations. According to Woj, Rivers and Morey have a close relationship from their time together with the Celtics. Also, NBC Sports reported Rivers met with Morey this past Saturday to discuss the 76ers moving forward.
Daryl Morey, like Rivers, brings a great deal of experience and success that has been lacking in the 76ers front office the past few seasons. Morey had been general manager of the Rockets since May 2007. Morey stepped down as manager of the Houston Rockets on Oct. 15, despite signing a five-year contract with the organization in March 2019.
During Morey’s time as the manager of the Houston Rockets, the team enjoyed a great deal of success. Throughout Morey’s tenure with the Rockets, the team had the second-best record in the NBA winning 61.5 percent of their games. In addition, under Morey’s lead, the Rockets appeared in the playoffs 10 times, had 51 playoff wins, and even made two appearances in the Western Conference finals.
Morey had a young protege working with him in Houston, Sam Hinkie. The Sixers brought on Hinkie as GM in 2013 and “the process” was started. No Sixer fan wants to endure that again.
Morey put significant emphasis on shooting three-pointers, as his Rocket teams broke numerous records for three-pointers made and attempted in a single season. Given this background, how well will Ben Simmons fare in an offense that emphasizes taking a healthy amount of three-pointers, when he’s been so reluctant to take any outside shots so far in his career? Is there something they know that the fans don’t? Is Morey planning to make a blockbuster trade involving Ben Simmons?
There is one player specifically that Morey could be looking to obtain. That player is James Harden. Harden and Morey spent the last eight years together in Houston and sustained a great deal of success together. In fact, Morey was the reason why Harden was even on the Rockets in the first place. One of Morey’s greatest accomplishments as general manager of Houston was the trade he made on Oct. 27, 2012 to acquire James Harden or, as some know him, “the beard.” Harden was drafted by the Oklahoma City Thunder with the third overall pick in the 2009 NBA draft. Harden was the sixth man for the Thunder coming off the bench but wasn’t able to showcase his full potential as he had to sit behind superstars Kevin Durant and Russel Westbrook. Morey could see that Harden had superstar potential, however, he just needed to be put in the right situation. So after four games of the 2012 season, Harden was traded along with Cole Aldrich, Daequan Cook and Lazar Hayward from the Oklahoma City Thunder to the Houston Rockets in exchange for Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb and two first-round picks. Morey clearly won that trade, as Harden who went on to be an MVP (2018) and eight-time all-star since he became a member of the Rockets.
Not all Morey moves worked out. He acquired Kyle Lowry in 2009 but traded him three years later. Lowry has gone on to become a six-time all-star as well as a World Champion with Toronto.
If there was some way Morey could trade for Harden, he should absolutely pull the trigger. Harden is a once-in-a-generation talent, and the thought of him teaming up with Joel Embiid in Philadelphia sounds too good to pass up, even if that means trading away Simmons. If Morey has the opportunity to acquire Harden, it’s likely that he won’t pass up the opportunity. After leaving the Rockets Morey took out a full page in the Houston Chronicle and dedicated it to Harden, saying “An entire page could be dedicated just to James. He not only transformed my life but also revolutionized the game of basketball — and continues to do so — like almost no one has before. The game is played differently because of James, and on every playground in the world, the next generation of talent is studying and imitating his game… I can’t believe I won’t be able to have another strategy session with James,” Morey wrote.
Perhaps he will again. The current form of the Sixers was only a sixth seed in the Eastern Conference, notwithstanding the “potential,” so you hire Morey to win now.