The Philadelphia 76ers made the hiring of former Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey as their new president of basketball operations official on Monday morning per a statement by the team. Morey signed a five-year contract with Philadelphia after spending the last 13 years in Houston and parted ways with the franchise just a few weeks ago. Morey's contract with the Sixers will pay him more than $10 million per season, according to Marc Stein of the New York Times. The Sixers expected to compete for a championship last season but lost in a first-round sweep against the Boston Celtics, prompting the organization to fire coach Brett Brown and replace him with former Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers.
"Thank you to Josh Harris for the trust he has placed in me to lead the 76ers. I am humbled by the challenge and will work tirelessly to win the hearts of Philadelphia's legendary fans," Morey said via team statement. "The opportunity to work again with Doc Rivers, Elton Brand and a stacked roster that is ready to win made this a can't miss opportunity."
Morey didn't take long to dive into arguably the biggest topic surrounding the Sixers: Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons' fit together. For what it's worth, the new man in charge believes that the team can succeed without moving one of them. "I absolutely think they can work together," Morey said.
Head coach Doc Rivers agreed, saying, "I have no doubt they can. Again, I haven't been in the lab with them yet, but I know they can. I think we have to change the narrative. They haven't won yet, not that they can't win. The 'can't' should be taken out. But there's a lot of combinations of players around the league that haven't won yet, and they're just two other ones. I'm really looking forward to the challenge."
Sixers managing partner Josh Harris spoke of Morey's success as general manager with the Rockets, as well as his innovation that helped change the way the game is played today.
"Talent like Daryl rarely becomes available so we moved quickly and aggressively to bring him here," Harris said. "He has an extraordinary track record of success in this league as an innovator, visionary and leader, and I believe he significantly improves our chances of delivering a championship-caliber team to our fans. This offseason, we made it our mission to make this organization better and stronger."
Sixers also announced that general manager Elton Brand received a multiyear extension to be retained in his current role, although the length of the deal is unknown. Brand had been seeking a contract extension since he met with Sixers brass in September, as his current contract that he signed in 2018 was set to expire after the 2020-21 season.
"I appreciate the confidence Josh Harris and this organization have shown in me with this extension," Brand said. "From the moment I arrived in Philadelphia, my goal has been to find a way to bring a championship to this city and our fans. I love this city, I love our fans and I will do whatever it takes to help this franchise succeed."
With a new team president and head coach, in addition to the retention of their general manager, the trio of Rivers, Morey and Brand will have a monumental task ahead of them: turning an expensive but not particularly cohesive team into a title contender. More specifically, the Sixers will have to figure out if Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons can carry this team to a championship, or at least to the NBA Finals, as there have been questions regarding the duo's chemistry on the floor. Philly also will need to address the serious depth issues that plagued it throughout the season, especially when it comes to shooters.
However, if the Sixers want to become serious title contenders next season, the easiest path is through trades to unload some of their pricier contracts in hopes of getting several pieces in return. They have over 82 percent of their cap tied up in Simmons, Embiid, Tobias Harris and Al Horford. Among that group, Horford has come up frequently in trade suggestions as the veteran center underwhelmed in his first season with Philadelphia. But the remaining three years and $81 million left on his deal will be difficult to get off the books.
The Sixers will have a very pivotal offseason ahead of them, and bringing in Morey and Rivers suggests that this team is all in on going for a championship right now. We'll have to wait and see if they're actually able to pull it off.