The Philadelphia 76ers were not done shaking things up by hiring Doc Rivers as their new coach — enter Daryl Morey.
Philadelphia is near a deal to hire former Houston GM Morey to take over their basketball operations, a story broken by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN and confirmed by sources to NBC Sports and NBC Sports Philadelphia. This hiring should be formally announced in the coming days.
Morey and Rivers have a long-running friendship and should have no issues working together. Morey would work with current lead executive Elton Brand as “a 1-2 punch,” according to reports.
Morey stepped down in Houston after the Rockets’ disappointing performance in the bubble, behind that were his long-rumored difference in philosophies with Houston owner Tillman Fertitta (something that pre-dated the China Twitter controversy). Philadelphia’s primary owner, Joshua Harris, brings deep pockets to the table.
Morey has been a winner in Houston — the Rockets had the second-best record in the NBA during his 13-year tenure, they were the biggest threat to the Warriors in the West for a couple of years, never had a losing season, and have been a playoff fixture. While Morey is seen outside the NBA as the face of the basketball analytics movement, he is also a guy who hunted stars such as James Harden, Dwight Howard (closer to his peak), Chris Paul, and Russell Westbrook. He also helped find quality role players such as P.J. Tucker and Eric Gordon.
Harris’ 76ers have shifted directions too often in recent years: From Sam Heinke’s process to the more win-now style of the Colangelos, to Brand’s shift in direction to go big last season (and not add a lot of shooting). Morey should bring stability and a vision.
The current 76ers roster is an odd fit with Morey’s shoot-threes-or-at-the-rim style of play, although part of that style of play was trying to maximize the skill set of James Harden. Morey is flexible and is just looking for ways to win.
Philadelphia has two All-Star players, but they are not classic Daryl Morey guys. Joel Embiid can be as dominant a center as there is in the league on both ends; he is capable of shooting threes but does his best work around the basket able to bully smaller players or use his touch to score. However, he does not create his own shot often, and he’s not exactly a small-ball kind of player.
Ben Simmons can create his own shot, is a high-quality defender, a gifted passer, and can get to the rim as well as anyone in the league, but this shot chart does not exactly fit with a Morey star (it’s almost Bizzaro James Harden).
Under Morey, expect Philadelphia to add shooting and more versatile players as they try to make the Embiid/Simmons pairing work. If it doesn’t, Morey will be very aggressive in his willingness to move on, he does not have the emotional investment in those players others in the organization do (he didn’t draft them).