Tue. Nov 24th, 2020

The Philadelphia 76ers are close to hiring Daryl Morey to be their new president of basketball operations, ESPN first reported, raising questions about the team’s roster construction for the 2020-21 NBA season.

Led by Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, Philadelphia has one of the most talented collections of players in the league. That hasn’t translated into championships, or anything close, with the 76ers suffering a first-round playoff exit last season and no trips to the conference semifinals in three straight postseason appearances.

As the Houston Rockets general manager, Morey put together the NBA’s most unique team. Houston abandoned a traditional center last season, dealing Clint Capela at February’s trade deadline. Morey has executed several blockbuster trades in recent years, acquiring Chris Paul in the 2017 offseason and swapping the point guard for Russell Westbrook two years later.

Could similar moves be coming in Philadelphia?

There’s been speculation for some time that the 76ers might try to break up Embiid and Simmons, whose skill-sets appear to be an awkward fit in the same offense. Neither player is efficient from behind the three-point line, especially Simmons, who has made just two threes in his entire career.

Morey’s Rockets led the NBA in three-point attempts in each of the last four years. At the very least, Morey will likely add better shooters to Philadelphia’s roster. 

Al Horford is likely available. The only question is if any team would be willing to trade for him. The 34-year-old had his worst season in over a decade with Philadelphia, and he’s owed $54.5 million over the next two seasons.

The 76ers likely won’t have any takers for forward Tobias Harris. Harris is one year into a five-year, $180 million contract. Harris was drafted in 2011 and has never been selected to an All-Star team.

Josh Richardson is a logical trade candidate. The 27-year-old is owed fewer than $11 million next season. Richardson averaged 13.7 points per game and shot 34.1% from three-point range in his one season with the 76ers.

Ahead of free agency, only the Golden State Warriors have more money committed in player salaries than Philadelphia next season, according to Spotrac. With championship aspirations, Morey and the 76ers should explore all avenues to increase their chances of competing for a title.

Ben Simmons takes rare three-pointer against the Los Angeles Lakers, a sign of things to come. Ben Simmons #25 and Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers watch play in the final minutes during a 121-105 win over the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on January 29, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. Photo: Getty Images/Harry How