Daryl Morey's top task as the new president of basketball operations for the Philadelphia 76ers is to improve the roster of a team that greatly underachieved last season. In order to do that, Morey could look to bring in a familiar face, as Philadelphia is expected to be interested in and pursue Houston Rockets superstar guard James Harden, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. Other teams are also expected to have an interest in Harden, but the Rockets are currently not shopping the former league MVP.
Philadelphia's potential interest in Harden isn't especially surprising given the history between Harden and Morey, but it is interesting since Morey made it clear at his introductory press conference with the Sixers that he doesn't necessarily plan to replicate Houston's small-ball style in Philadelphia.
"We were trying to build the best team around our talents in Houston," Morey said of potentially bringing the small-ball style to Philly. "But here, Doc [Rivers] is gonna take the talent we have and use them to the best of their ability... The goal isn't to shoot three-pointers. The goal is to win. You can score on offense in a whole bunch of different ways.
"I think the best way to win in the NBA is to take your talent and figure out how to utilize them the best," Morey added. "It's not to take your talent and hammer it into a particular system. It's to try to get the most out of who you have."
A pursuit of Harden on Philadelphia's part is also interesting because, in order to acquire a player of Harden's caliber, the Sixers would likely have to part with one of their two young All-Stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. While Morey will certainly evaluate all options, both he and Rivers have made it abundantly clear that they believe that the duo of Embiid and Simmons can win at the highest level.
"My goal is to win a championship so whatever gets us there is what we'll do," Morey said. "I would say to have two star-plus players at 24 and 26-years old, that is why I couldn't get Doc Rivers to come interview in Houston because he saw this roster and he said it's amazing. Obviously, I end up here a couple of weeks later, it's pretty cool."
"They've won 65 percent of the games they've played in," Rivers said of Embiid and Simmons at his own introductory press conference with the Sixers. "It clearly works when they play together. ... I don't get lost in the minutia. I don't get lost in what position guys play. I look at how many points we score as a team. I don't care how we score. My teams have always been very good offensively, and we score points, and we score points in a lot of different ways. ... This team is loaded with talent. We just have to figure out how to make it work best. But just looking at the numbers, when [Embiid and Simmons] play together, they win 65 percent of the games they play in. That's a good thing."
While anything is possible, a trade involving Philadelphia's other three starters from last season -- Tobias Harris, Al Horford, and Josh Richardson -- is much more likely than a move involving either Embiid or Simmons at this point in time. Philadelphia would be remiss to trade either young All-Star without giving Rivers at least a single season to see what he could get out of the duo.
Even if a Harden trade doesn't materialize, the Sixers are a team with a new front office, a new coaching staff, and championship expectations. In other words, you can expect them to be active over the offseason.