August 7, 2022

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Sources: Harden deal eyed in NBA’s 76ers probe

5:20 PM ET Tim BontempsESPN CAMDEN, N.J. — Philadelphia 76ers president of basketball operations Daryl...

CAMDEN, N.J. — Philadelphia 76ers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey mentioned coach Doc Rivers will return subsequent season for a 3rd yr with the franchise.

“I simply suppose he’s an excellent coach,” Morey mentioned throughout Friday’s exit interviews after the Sixers had been eradicated the earlier night time on their residence court docket by the Miami Heat within the Jap Convention semifinals. “I like working with him. I really feel like I am studying from him. I believe [general manager] Elton [Brand] and I and him make an excellent crew, and we’re gonna see the place this journey takes us.

“However we really feel excellent about the place it is gonna take us, and it is gonna be the place we now have an excellent likelihood to win the title.”

That has been the purpose every of the previous two seasons in Philadelphia, since Morey arrived from the Houston Rockets and Rivers from the LA Clippers: to take this crew to stage it hasn’t reached in a era. The 76ers have not made it previous the second spherical of the playoffs — the place they’ve now misplaced 4 occasions in 5 years — since reaching the NBA Finals in 2001.

The 76ers have not gained an NBA championship since 1983.

Morey reiterated that purpose when he traded Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, Andre Drummond and two first-round draft picks for James Harden on this season’s blockbuster deal on the commerce deadline.

On Friday, Morey repeatedly mentioned the 76ers are wanting ahead to spending the offseason discovering methods to “unlock” Harden, who was underwhelming within the playoffs (18.6 factors, 8.6 assists), and to scrub up the match alongside famous person middle Joel Embiid.

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When requested a number of occasions immediately if that meant Harden has extra ranges to achieve or if followers ought to come to decrease their expectations for the previous NBA MVP shifting ahead, Morey artfully danced across the query with out answering it.

As an alternative, Morey mentioned he is wanting ahead to Rivers and his workers discovering methods to make use of Harden.

“Look. He is an extremely proficient participant,” Morey mentioned. “Similar to Joel, identical to Tobias [Harris]. And I am excited for Doc and his workers to have a complete offseason to work with the gamers and give you the very best plan for the roster we’ll have. … Having all of it come collectively in February makes it very troublesome to attempt to work out learn how to … ‘unlock’ all of the completely different expertise of the gamers and the way they will work collectively.

“Everyone knows he’s a really expert participant, and we’ll work out learn how to use him.”

Morey additionally adopted up on Harden’s declaration that, as he weighs what to do together with his participant possibility this summer season, he will likely be again in Philadelphia subsequent season.

“That is the plan, is to have him again,” Morey mentioned. “That is been the plan because the commerce. Clearly, we now have to work together with his illustration and that’ll be between us to determine how that works.”

Total, although, it was a melancholy temper — as one would anticipate for a crew that bounced out of the playoffs within the method that it did, with two straight ugly losses to the Warmth.

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“Nicely, we’re sick,” Morey mentioned. “We’re right here as a result of we now have huge aspirations. I do know our followers do as properly. … That is why we’re right here. That is why we do that. So it is powerful to be right here proper now. Nonetheless emotional.

“[But] look, we’re enthusiastic about what we are able to construct from right here. We predict plenty of issues that we are able to enhance on and that is myself, that is on [Brand], that is on Coach Rivers. We will determine this out. However we really feel like there’s so much to construct on.”

Whereas Philadelphia has a robust basis to construct upon, merely because of Embiid’s presence, there nonetheless is loads of work to be finished. Miami star Jimmy Butler was in a position to get what he needed towards the 76ers defensively on this collection, and perimeter protection was a continuing drawback all season. Depth additionally was a difficulty.

Morey mentioned protection was going to be a spotlight, whereas Rivers echoed Embiid’s statements that the crew wants extra toughness shifting ahead.

“Nicely, I believe it is one thing that our gamers can develop,” Morey mentioned a couple of lack of psychological toughness being a typical theme in exit interviews with gamers. “I imply, going by means of losses and the way you reply to that and the way you’re taking it as your individual look within the mirror. I believe all of us have to look within the mirror and say, ‘How can we every be higher?’ … And that goes for myself as properly.”

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In the end, although, what the 76ers have finished the previous two seasons is not any higher than what they did the prior three when it comes to how far they’ve managed to advance within the postseason. However advancing within the playoffs is not any straightforward feat, Rivers mentioned, and requires a studying curve from up and down a corporation to take action.

“As a result of successful is tough,” Rivers mentioned. “You simply do not present up and also you simply say, ‘OK, guys. We’re shifting on.’ It is arduous. We’re not the one group. It is arduous to maneuver on. We had a chance final yr, did not get it finished. This yr was powerful. I imply, clearly, with all of the accidents and stuff, so the solutions are straightforward. It is arduous. We’re proper there. We put ourselves within the argument. And that is all you are able to do. And then you definately come again and preserve working at it till you recover from the mountain.

“Milwaukee, you take a look at them, it took two or three years to recover from the mountain. That is simply the way in which it really works. It isn’t assured to anyone.”