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Daryl Morey, Doc Rivers not hiding their high hopes for Sixers | Off the Dribble

Morey and Rivers want the players and fans to know that they believe that good things are coming soon for the 76ers.

New Sixers coach Doc Rivers is inheriting a team that underachieved last season, but has the pieces already in place to be much better.
New Sixers coach Doc Rivers is inheriting a team that underachieved last season, but has the pieces already in place to be much better.Read moreELIZABETH ROBERTSON / Staff Photographer

Daryl Morey was introduced last week as the 76ers' president of basketball operations and there is plenty of work to do in so little time. The draft is Nov. 18. The Sixers also have to prepare for free agency and of course training camp on Dec. 1.

There is not much time for Morey and new coach Doc Rivers to evaluate the team, but one thing is clear from last week’s news conference: Both men believe that this team can win big now, a season after a first-round playoff exit.

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Praising the players

When a new regime comes in, there is often a plea for patience. But that hasn’t been the case with Morey and Rivers.

Because the team has All-Stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, Morey and Rivers indicated that they expect to win big immediately.

Nobody should expect them to say the Sixers will be losers, but by saying how talented the team is, they have put even more pressure on themselves. Apparently Rivers and Morey don’t care. They want to show how much belief they have in the players.

“I think we have a loaded roster, I really do, I love a lot of the guys,” Rivers said last week.

He did add this disclaimer:

“You have to get in the lab, though, and see what we actually have and find out how we can make it work,” he said. “And I think it will fit.”

Morey added his take.

“I think we all feel very good about the roster and the fact that with healthy Joel and Ben Simmons and a group that Doc is coaching, we feel like people are underrating the Sixers right now. But we need to go out there and prove it,” Morey said.

Morey also added a story about Rivers. While still the GM of Houston, Morey wanted to interview Rivers for the vacant Rockets head coaching job.

“You have two star-plus players who are 24 and 26 years old,” Morey said about Simmons and Embiid. “That is why I couldn’t get Doc to interview [for the Rockets' job], because he saw this roster and he said it’s amazing and, ‘Sorry I didn’t fly to Houston to be with you, Daryl.’ And then I ended up here a couple of weeks later. It was pretty cool.”

That is not to say that Morey and probably Rivers believe that the team is set. .

Morey made 77 trades in his 13 seasons as general manger in Houston, so there is no doubt he will be making moves. It is just a matter of when.

Starting five

David Murphy has three thoughts on the direction that Morey will take the Sixers.

Frank Vogel is a former Sixers assistant and a product of Wildwood High. He used a year off from coaching to visit various NBA and college coaching staffs, and the experience helped mold him into a championship coach this past season with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Keith Pompey, in his podcast, dissects Morey’s opening news conference as the Sixers director of basketball operations.

Frank Fitzpatrick profiles the popular late NBA referee Earl Strom, a Pottstown native who was recently inducted into the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame.

Marcus Hayes writes that the Sixers' owners has gotten too close to the star players and he advises them to change their ways.

Quick turnaround for many teams

The NBA players last week approved the start of the 2020-2021 season on Dec. 22 for a planned 72-game season. Some matters still have to be worked out before the plans become official.

That said, it will be a quick turnaround for teams that advanced deep into the players. Training camps are slated to start Dec. 1.

The Sixers' season ended Aug. 23, when the Boston Celtics scored a 110-106 win to sweep their first-round series in four games. That means the Sixers will have 99 days between the end of their season and the first day of camp.

The year before, the Sixers' season ended with the Game 7 loss at Toronto on May 12. The first day of training camp was Oct. 1.

That gave the Sixers 140 days off between seasons.

Here is a look at teams that advanced to at least the conference semifinals and the days off they will have until Dec. 1.

Los Angeles Lakers -- season ended Oct. 11. Days off: 50.

Miami Heat -- season ended Oct. 11. Days off: 50.

Denver Nuggets -- season ended Sept. 26. Days off: 65.

Boston Celtics -- season ended Set. 27. Days off: 64.

Los Angeles Clippers -- season ended Sept. 15. Days off: 76.

Houston Rockets -- season ended Sept. 12. Days off: 79.

Toronto Raptors -- season ended Sept. 11. Days off: 80.

Milwaukee Bucks -- season ended Sept. 8. Days off: 83.

Passing the rock

Question: Is is true the Sixers, are in pursuit of James Harden or Russell Westbrook? - Eugene Pough from Facebook.

Answer: Thanks for the question, Eugene. There was a story last week that the Sixers like James Harden. My response: no kidding. Acquiring Harden from the Oklahoma City Thunder was Morey’s best trade in his 13 years as general manager at Houston. We examined a possible Harden trade for Ben Simmons and a few other parts in last week’s newsletter and I am sure Morey will inquire about Harden. But we’re not so sure that Houston would be willing to part with him. As for Westbrook, I would guess there is zero interest from the Sixers. They need somebody who can shoot. Westbrook is only a career 30.5% three-point shooter, including 25.8% this past regular season and 24.2% in the playoffs. Plus he is signed for three more seasons, which includes a player option in the final year, 2022-2023 for more than $47 million. Harden has a similar contract, but he would interest the Sixers more because of his ability to shoot from distance.