76ers’ Daryl Morey faces potential career-defining offseason

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Philadelphia 76ers’ Daryl Morey speaks during a news conference before an NBA basketball game against the Atlanta Hawks, Friday, Feb. 9, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Philadelphia 76ers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey recently completed his 17th season as the decision-maker in an NBA team’s front office. In that time, Morey spent the first 13 years in Houston with the Rockets and his last four here in Philly with the Sixers.

Morey made many notable acquisitions for both franchises, and his teams have consistently been among the most competitive in the league, yet he’s never reached the ultimate prize, an NBA Championship. Not only that, but Morey has failed to reach the NBA Finals even once in that time.

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Philadelphia 76ers’ Daryl Morey speaks during a news conference at the NBA basketball team’s training facility, Wednesday, May 17, 2023, in Camden, N.J. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

One of the key players in the NBA’s analytical movement, Daryl Morey helped revolutionize the game of basketball. Yet, he’s seen many who have come after him enjoy the fruits of those labors ahead of him.

There have been several contributing reasons over the years that have led to this, from inconsistent playoff performers to star trade demands, but Morey himself has been a constant at the center of this issue, something that will blemish his career looking back, barring a drastic change. His best chance to spark that change is this offseason.

Can Morey guide the 76ers through this pivotal offseason?

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Philadelphia 76ers head coach Nick Nurse, right, talks to Tyrese Maxey, center, and Joel Embiid, left, during the second half of Game 2 in an NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the New York Knicks, Monday, April 22, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

To Morey’s credit, he oversaw the selection of Tyrese Maxey and his growth into the first non-problematic star the Sixers have been able to pair with Joel Embiid. He’s also seemingly provided the team with a long-term answer at their head coaching position in Nick Nurse. That’s a solid place to begin, but not enough to stave off the critics permanently.

Morey has also navigated two separate trade demands by stars, though one could argue he was one of the potential causes of the demands in both cases. Still, one trade demand led into the next but the end result of both is this offseason full of possibility.

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Philadelphia 76ers’ Daryl Morey speaks during a news conference before an NBA basketball game against the Atlanta Hawks, Friday, Feb. 9, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

All that has been said since the completion of the James Harden trade last season was how the Sixers were set up for success this offseason. With roughly $60 million in projected salary cap room this offseason and *five first-round draft picks to trade, the opportunity to make a massive splash is there; it just has to be seized.

The free agent pool is not as star-studded as perhaps the team would hope, but the supposed crown jewel, Los Angeles Clippers wing Paul George, is still very much in play. Though they are expected to re-sign with their current teams, LeBron James, Pascal Siakam, and OG Anunoby are also, technically speaking, available as well.

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LA Clippers forward Paul George brings the ball up court during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Memphis Grizzlies, Sunday, Nov. 12, 2023, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ryan Sun)

More likely, the Sixers may find themselves with the opportunity to land a high-quality player through the trade market. The expectation around the league is that this offseason is expected to be particularly explosive, with names such as Donovan Mitchell, Jimmy Butler, Trae Young, and Brandon Ingram being discussed as players who could have a new home by next season. Then there are the massive question marks around where the Phoenix Suns will go from here.

As has been his M.O. since he first took on a leading role, the expectation is that Daryl Morey will call regarding any player he is interested in as he does his due diligence. This past season, it was reported that Morey called the Phoenix Suns to discuss Durant and Devin Booker, while he also reported reaching out to the Lakers about LeBron.

Daryl Morey is very much aware that the worst thing a team can say when you ask about the potential availability of one of their players is to say no. That does not ensure that the Sixers will land a third star this offseason, but it does help explain some of the early rumors surfacing about who the Sixers are expected to target this offseason.

Many thought the acquisition of James Harden was the move necessary to spark change. Others thought the same about the trade for Buddy Hield at the deadline. Sixers fans have been dealing with disappointing results of drastic roster changes for years, as has Morey since before he came to Philadelphia.

The hope for both the franchise and its president of basketball ops is that the trend will finally end, and the latest dramatic roster turnover will finally result in a championship team. If not, Daryl Morey and the Sixers will be hard-pressed to beat the current narrative.