Morey: Rivers might be again; hopefully Harden, too

CAMDEN, N.J. — Philadelphia 76ers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey stated coach Doc Rivers will return subsequent season for a 3rd 12 months with the franchise.

“I simply assume he’s an awesome coach,” Morey stated throughout Friday’s exit interviews after the Sixers have been eradicated the earlier evening on their house courtroom by the Miami Warmth within the Jap Convention semifinals. “I like working with him. I really feel like I’m studying from him. I feel [general manager] Elton [Brand] and I and him make an awesome workforce, and we’re gonna see the place this journey takes us.

“However we really feel superb about the place it’s gonna take us, and it’s gonna be the place we’ve an excellent likelihood to win the title.”

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

The 76ers haven’t received an NBA championship since 1983.

Morey reiterated that objective 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.

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On Friday, Morey repeatedly stated 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 instances 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 transferring ahead, Morey artfully danced across the query with out answering it.

As an alternative, Morey stated he’s wanting ahead to Rivers and his employees discovering methods to make use of Harden.

“Look. He’s an extremely gifted participant,” Morey stated. “Identical to Joel, similar to Tobias [Harris]. And I’m excited for Doc and his employees to have an entire offseason to work with the gamers and provide you with the most effective plan for the roster we’ll have. … Having all of it come collectively in February makes it very tough to try to determine … ‘unlock’ all of the completely different expertise of the gamers and the way they’ll work collectively.

“Everyone knows he’s a really expert participant, and we’ll determine use him.”

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

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

General, although, it was a melancholy temper — as one would count on for a workforce 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 stated. “We’re right here as a result of we’ve large aspirations. I do know our followers do as effectively. … That’s why we’re right here. That’s why we do that. So it’s 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 a whole lot of issues that we are able to enhance on and that’s myself, that’s on [Brand], that’s on Coach Rivers. We’re going to determine this out. However we really feel like there’s loads 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 completed. Miami star Jimmy Butler was in a position to get what he wished towards the 76ers defensively on this sequence, and perimeter protection was a relentless downside all season. Depth additionally was a problem.

Morey stated protection was going to be a spotlight, whereas Rivers echoed Embiid’s statements that the workforce wants extra toughness transferring ahead.

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

In the end, although, what the 76ers have completed the previous two seasons isn’t 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 isn’t any straightforward feat, Rivers stated, and requires a studying curve from up and down a corporation to take action.

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“As a result of successful is tough,” Rivers stated. “You simply don’t present up and also you simply say, ‘OK, guys. We’re transferring on.’ It’s laborious. We’re not the one group. It’s laborious to maneuver on. We had a chance final 12 months, didn’t get it completed. This 12 months was powerful. I imply, clearly, with all of the accidents and stuff, so the solutions are straightforward. It’s laborious. We’re proper there. We put ourselves within the argument. And that’s all you are able to do. And then you definately come again and hold 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’s simply the best way it really works. It’s not assured to anyone.”