76ers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey has some lofty expectations for Philadelphia this season and he isn't afraid to share them publicly. During a recent appearance on ESPN with Stephen A. Smith, Morey made it clear that anything short of a championship would be a disappointment for the franchise.
"I think we're pretty championship or bust I have to say," Morey said. "Doc Rivers obviously has won one. I haven't gotten there yet. Joel and Ben haven't gotten there yet. But, you know, I think you do this, you go into every season, hoping to win the title, not a lot of teams have a chance, but we absolutely have a chance and we're going to continue to work hard so we give ourselves the best chance possible. And I think we have a very good chance."
This comment may come off as obvious at face value, given the fact that the Sixers have been in win-now mode for the past couple of seasons. But it's not every day that an executive makes such a bold public proclamation, and when you consider the source, it gains an added layer of intrigue. Morey has a track record of being proactive -- extremely aggressive even -- in the name of improvement. It's exactly what's made him a respected executive. He's not the type to twiddle his thumbs over the offseason if the team fails to live up to expectations.
In other words, if the Sixers flame out in the postseason again, without at least getting farther than they have in recent years, changes could be coming. Roster changes, specifically, since Morey wouldn't fire himself, and he also wouldn't move on from coach Doc Rivers after just a single season. Joel Embiid has looked like an MVP early this season as he has established himself as one of the very best players in the league, so it's also extremely unlikely that the Sixers would move on from Embiid. The rest of the roster could be fair game though if the team doesn't live up to the high expectations of its own front office. Morey is well aware that when you have a player playing at the elite level that Embiid is, an organization must do everything it can to maximize his prime years. Complacency can't be afforded. Title windows don't stay open for too long.
Just look at Morey's tenure with the Rockets. His main move, of course, was trading for James Harden in 2012. Once the central star was acquired, it was all about surrounding him with other top-tier talents. He brought in Dwight Howard to pair with Harden. When that pairing failed to yield a title, Morey traded for Chris Paul. When the duo of Paul and Harden again fell short of reaching the Finals after two tries, Paul was flipped for Russell Westbrook. Carmelo Anthony was also brought in for a brief stint in Houston. No, the Harden-led Rockets were never able to advance out of the Western Conference, but not because of a lack of effort on Morey's part.
The Sixers have gotten off to an extremely hot start to the current campaign as they sit at the top of the East after 20 games. Rings aren't won in January though, and the Sixers will need to maintain their promising play throughout the regular season, and into postseason play if they want to avoid an uncertain offseason. The pressure is clearly on in Philadelphia.