Daryl Morey wanted it known that he can adapt. He isn’t married to the three-pointer and is more than happy to work with one of the best big men in the NBA.
On his introductory Zoom conference Monday as the 76ers' new president of basketball operations, Morey, who signed a five-year contract, said that he adjusted to his talent during his previous 13 seasons as general manager in Houston and that he will do so in Philadelphia, too.
This past season, the Rockets led the NBA in three-point attempts (45.3 per game in the regular season and 46.3 per in the postseason). But with the Sixers, Morey is looking forward to working with three-time All-Star center Joel Embiid first and foremost.
“Joel is a dominant, dominant big man, I’m excited to get back to that,” Morey said in the Zoom conference, where he was joined by Sixers general manager Elton Brand, new coach Doc Rivers, and managing partner Josh Harris. “I’m excited to get back to that. You know I worked with Yao Ming.”
Ming, the 7-foot-6 center, was an eight-time All-Star with Houston during a nine-year span from 2002 to 2011.
“We got very close in Houston with Yao Ming and I think we can go all the way with Joel,” Morey said.
Morey is also looking forward to working with two-time All-Star Ben Simmons and the rest of the team, one that had high aspirations last season but was swept in the first round of the playoffs by the Boston Celtics.
“The chance to work with Joel and Ben and the roster that Elton has put together, this is a roster that has championship aspirations and can win the championship,” Morey said. “You can’t ask for anything more; it’s been a dream come true to be here today.”
Morey mentioned several times how much he thinks Embiid can lead this franchise to greater heights. In Houston, this past season’s team played small ball and Morey said that was out of necessity, something he won’t have to worry about with the Sixers.
“Joel is the kind of player you win championships with if you look back in history,” Morey said. “We were trying to build the best team around our talents in Houston, but here Doc is going to take the talent we have and use them to the best of their ability.”
Morey was asked if Embiid and Simmons could win together, and while Morey said he did believe they could, he turned things over to Rivers.
“I have no doubt they can. Again I haven’t been in the lab with them,” Rivers said. “But I know they can. I think we have to change the narrative, that they haven’t won yet, not that they can’t win. … There are a lot of combinations around the league who haven’t won yet.”
Morey, who made 77 trades during his tenure in Houston, will no doubt make moves, but maybe not right away.
“One thing I think where organizations make mistakes is they try to make sure the roster is perfect on Game 1,” he said. “So if there is a great opportunity, obviously we’re going to do it early, we’ve got some important windows coming up with the draft and free agency and also the trade window in there before whenever we play our first game.”
The draft is scheduled for Nov. 18 and free agency is expected to begin shortly after.
Morey’s arrival takes away from Brand’s power, yet Harris, Morey, and Brand all said that the GM was the one who urged Harris to go after Morey following his resignation from the Rockets in mid-October.
“Elton showed incredible leadership in putting the team first, along with Doc, urging me to go after Daryl the minute it was announced he was leaving Houston,” Harris said.
Added Brand: “My goal is to win a championship and enjoy the journey along with that. So whatever my role needs to be, I accept that role and look forward to growing this organization to get to a point to win."