CAMDEN, NJ – Daryl Morey, president of the Philadelphia 76ers basketball operations, said coach Doc will return next season for a third year with the reverse franchise.
“I think he’s a great coach,” Morey said in an interview released Friday after the Miami Heat defeated the Sixers the night before on their home court in the Eastern Conference semifinals. “I love working with him. I think I’m learning from him. I think [General Manager] Elton [Brand] and he and I make a great team and we’ll see where this journey takes us.
“But we feel very good about where it will take us and we have a very good chance of winning the championship.”
This is the goal of each of the last two seasons in Philadelphia, as Morey came from LA Clippers to Houston Rockets and Reverse: to take this team to the next level in a generation. Since reaching the NBA Finals in 2001 – the 76ers have not made it to the second round of the playoffs – where they have now lost four times in five years.
The 76ers have not won an NBA Championship since 1983.
Morey reiterated that goal when he traded two first-round draft picks for Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, Andre Drummond and James Harden on the trade deadline in this season’s blockbuster deal.
On Friday, Morey repeatedly stated that the 76ers are looking forward to spending the offseason to find a way to “unlock” Harden in the playoffs (18.6 points, 8.6 assists) and to clear the side of superstar center Joel Embed.
Asked several times directly whether Harden wanted to reach higher levels or whether fans should lower their expectations of the former NBA MVP, Morey danced artistically to this question without answering.
Instead, Morey said he and Reverse and his staff are looking for ways to use Harden.
“Look. He’s an incredibly talented player,” Morey said. “Like Joel, like Tobias [Harris]. And I’m looking forward to the whole offseason for Doc and his staff to work with the players and come up with the best plans for the roster we have. … It was very difficult to figure out and find out how they could work together.
“We all know he’s a very talented player and we’ll figure out how to use him.”
Morey also followed Harden’s announcement that, given the weight of his player’s choice of what to do this summer, he will return to Philadelphia next season.
“The plan is to bring him back,” Morey said. “That’s the plan from the trade. Naturally, we have to work with its representatives and it will be between us to find out how it works.”
Overall, however, he was in a gloomy mood – the Heat would be expected from a team that was knocked out of the playoffs with two straight ugly defeats.
“Well, we’re sick,” Morey said. “We’re here because we have big aspirations. I know our fans do too. … That’s why we’re here. That’s why we do it. So it’s hard to be here right now. It’s still emotional.”
“[But] look, we’re curious about what we can build from here. We’re thinking of a lot of things that we can improve and it’s on its own, it’s on [the brand], it’s on the coach reverse. We’re going to figure it out. Yes, but we think there is a lot to build. “
Although Philadelphia has a strong foundation due to its presence, there is still a lot of work to be done. Miami star Jimmy Butler was able to get what he wanted defensively against the 76ers in the series, and perimeter defense was a constant problem throughout the season. Room was also an issue.
Morey said the focus would be on defense, while Reverse echoed Embed’s statement that the team needed more rigor to move forward.
“Well, I think that’s something our players can grow,” Morey said. “I mean, going through a loss and how you respond to it and how you look at it in the mirror. I think we all need to look in the mirror and say, ‘How can we all be better?’ … and that’s for me, too. “
In the end, however, what the 76ers have done in the last two seasons is no better than how far they have managed to go in the last three seasons. But getting ahead in the playoffs is not an easy task, Reverse said, and to do that the organization needs a learning curve up and down.
“Because it’s hard to win,” Reverse said. “You don’t look and you just say, ‘OK, friends. We’re moving on.’ This is difficult. We are not the only organization. It is difficult to move forward. We had the opportunity last year, we did not fulfill it. This year has been difficult. We are there