As the February 10th trade deadline inches closer, there seem to be more questions than answers surrounding a potential Ben Simmons trade. With rumors flying, Sixers President of Basketball Operation, Daryl Morey, took to 97.5 the Fanatic for an interview with Mike Missanelli to clear things up. The 25-minute interview was filled with interesting information surrounding the Sixers and should have everyone braced for an eventful next three weeks.
Joel Embiid’s Play
As is the case with the Sixers, the conversation could not go far without bringing up Joel Embiid. The interview began as Missanelli talked about Embiid’s epic 50 point performance the night prior and asked for Morey’s thoughts on the play of the MVP candidate.
Daryl Morey referred to the performance as “mind-bending” and went into more detail about how special he is as a player. The conversation naturally shifted to how this level of play changes the potential handling of the Ben Simmons situation as it is clear that Joel Embiid is ready to compete for a championship right now. Morey admitted that “it feels like an extra responsibility when you have someone playing this great to make sure we do the right thing.”
State of the Sixers
It is clear to just about anyone who has watched the Sixers this season that the roster that surrounds Joel Embiid is not quite complete. Morey was asked if he believed this to be the case and did not quite agree with the sentiment. He put it, “It has happened that someone playing as well Embiid has won the title. So I do actually believe that this team, even without any changes, has a chance. It’s not as good a chance as any of us want. We want to improve that chance.”
One of the messages that Morey has been consistent when talking about is how the Sixers are in a better spot than most teams in the league. Even in the midst of the Simmons drama, Morey pointed out how most teams would love to be in the Sixers’ shoes. He reinforced this message today and mentioned how much movement is expected around the trade deadline as evidence of other teams’ frustrations.
Ben Simmons Trade
When directly addressing the Ben Simmons rumors, Morey was also consistent with the thought process regarding a deal that he has mentioned throughout. It is difficult to find a trade in such a unique circumstance, and there is no team out there concerned with what helps the 76ers. Finding a partner where both parties benefit from a Simmons trade is a much more difficult task than it may seem.
Morey was more direct when talking about the situation than one might expect. When asked what the chances are that a deal gets done before the deadline, put it, “I think it’s less likely than likely. I hope I’m wrong, and it won’t be for lack of trying.” While some are frustrated with the seeming lack of progress in the situation, this was a much-needed reality check on how important it is to get the deal right.
On the positive side of things, Morey did make it clear that his intention is to upgrade the team, whether it involves Simmons being traded or not. He pointed to his track record at the deadline in the past and said he will operate with the same mindset. Another message that Morey has echoed is that if you believe the team has any shot of a championship in the given year (which he acknowledged the Sixers do), you should go out and try to improve the team. He also referenced the George Hill trade last season and admitted it did not quite work out.
The number of rumored packages offered for Ben Simmons were discussed during the interview, with Morey making a point to say that much of what is seen online simply is not true. One potential change that was interesting is Morey did not seem as tied to only accepting a deal for a star as he once was. As the Sixers President of Basketball Operations put it, “Because Joel’s playing amazing…now we might be able to do it with a top 40 player who’s a great fit.” He specifically mentioned how a young player who could develop into this star-caliber player during Embiid’s prime could also be on the table.
At another part of the interview, Morey acknowledged how Embiid’s impressive play has changed things once again. He put it-
“I do think with how great Joel is, our line has moved down a little bit. Because Joel has lifted us into contention with his sheer will of greatness this year, that does push the number of deals that we would do more likely… It’s more likely that we can find one that gets us into that top contention because of how great Joel is playing.”
While so many of us (myself included) simply want this drama to be over, the fact of the matter is so much is riding on the potential return in this trade. Morey argued with the notion that the Sixers would be burning the season if a deal isn’t done before the deadline and instead stated that he would be burning their long-term chances if the wrong deal is done.
Trade with the Kings?
One deal that was specifically discussed was the Sacramento Kings deal that was reported by Keith Pompey yesterday. Morey made it clear that this exact deal was never offered to him and (wisely) avoided comment on if he would consider it.
One comment that was especially interesting was Morey’s interest in Sacramento. He went on to say:
“I can tell you that for sure there are deals with the Sacramento Kings that I think would work…Will those deals ever happen? I have no idea. Are they just straight deals with the Kings? Probably not. Is it multiple teams? Probably.”
Is there Hope for Simmons to Return?
The Sixers have continued to send the message that they would welcome Ben Simmons back to the team if he chose to rejoin them. Morey was asked if this was still the case, and he stated that it is. As he put it, “I 100% believe he could play for us again, and he’d be literally almost the perfect player we could have to pair with Joel Embiid.” He pointed out the defensive and rebounding statistics have decreased by such a large margin this year and how crucial that is during playoff basketball.
In reality, there is pretty much zero chance that Simmons rejoins the Sixers this season, but the sentiment of what Morey is saying is true. While there are frustrations with the holes in Simmons’ game, the Sixers do miss a great deal of what he brought on the court. Who knows when the next time he suits up to play basketball, but it would be wise to guess this doesn’t happen in a 76ers uniform.
One of the main points of Morey’s interview was to make it clear that there is no guarantee Ben Simmons is traded before the deadline. Despite this, it is an extremely encouraging sign that Embiid’s play may have changed the situation in some regard. The biggest takeaway should be there is no one better to handle this situation than Daryl Morey, and there should be no doubt that he has the Sixers’ best interest in mind.