Daryl Morey Goes Into Detail on Sixers’ Trade Deadline Possibilities in Interview on 97.5 The Fanatic

By Matt Gregan, Sports Talk Philly Staff Writer

The Philadelphia 76ers, thanks to the Ben Simmons situation, continue to be at the center of the conversation surrounding the upcoming NBA trade deadline. Sixers general manager and president of basketball operations Daryl Morey spoke about a plethora of topics in an interview with Mike Missanelli on 97.5 The Fanatic on Thursday afternoon.

Morey took the opportunity to gush over Joel Embiid's recent play, as the big man has been playing at a MVP level averaging 35.4 points, 10.8 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game over the past month. Embiid's recent performance, combined with a Simmons-sized hole on the roster, has caused there to be an increased push to supply the team with a bonafide second star player to pair with Embiid.

Morey, throughout the interview, talked about how he understands the angst and impatience of the team's fanbase, but he also went into detail about how remaining patient is the right course. 

"If they [the fans] think we're burning the season away without trading Ben, we are not only burning this season away if we trade Ben away for something that makes everyone feel good, we're also burning away all the future seasons," Morey said. "We're burning way more by doing a marginal trade than if we are patient, we have a solid chance this year and then we also have the ability to win more in the future as well."

He is correct in being patient and not making a trade for the sake of making a trade. The team needs to maintain a patient approach in order to be able to get a true difference maker to pair with Embiid and contend for championships not just this season but in the future as well. Settling for a lesser return would effectively get the Sixers nowhere near where they would need to be a top championship contender over the next handful of seasons.

"If you trade one of these great players for multiple [players], it does not move your championship odds enough to make a difference," Morey said. "It might take us from where we're at now to a little bit better, but it's very slightly better. And we want to, for Joel, we have to make sure we get this right and that we move ourselves into a higher tier of ability to win the championship, and not just nudge ourselves from having the 7th best chance to maybe the 6th best chance in the league. It just doesn't make sense."

However, Morey did a great job keeping all his options open throughout the interview. He believes, with the way Embiid is playing lately, the Sixers have a real chance at winning a championship this season even if they do not pull the trigger on a Simmons trade until the offseason. However, the team certainly has multiple weaknesses they would like to address, with transition defense and rebounding being near the top.

The Sixers' desire to receive an impact top-25 player in return for Simmons is well known. Morey has a history of chasing after the big fish during his tenure with the Houston Rockets, so it is not shocking he is attempting to hit the home run and get a superstar player in return. For those itching for a trade to occur before the deadline, he shot it down in the interview, saying the following: "Let's say we don't make a big move at this deadline, which has a very good chance of happening."

Despite Morey at times talking down the possibility of a big trade occurring before the deadline, Embiid's recent performance has had the effect of widening the list of available players the Sixers would be willing to take back in a trade.

"I think with how great Joel is, our line has moved down a little bit. Because Joel has lifted us to contention by his sheer will of greatness this year, that does push the number of deals that we would do more likely. It's more likely that we can find ones that get us into the top few contention because of how great Joel is playing. So we are sitting right now at a better chance of a trade that actually helps Joel and the Sixers," Morey said. "[Before], we absolutely needed to get an impact player, but there's an impact player that has to be in the top 30 of the league. Because Joel is playing amazing and has lifted us into probably five percent plus title odds just on his play, now we might be able to do it with a top-40 player who's a great fit. Or we could do it where we do a trade, it helps the team, it's a better fit, and maybe our future opportunities are still open because we get some draft picks as part of it."

"So it helps the odds enough this year and we maybe have a draft pick or a young player who can help us into the future, who might develop like if we got a player a caliber of a [Tyrese] Maxey coming back. We might be able to say okay, we got a really solid player, maybe not in the top 30 but he's a little bit below that, plus a solid young player who over Joel's prime which we're sitting in might develop into that."

What Morey said is incredibly interesting, possibly opening up the door for the Sacramento Kings, a team heavily rumored to be interested in acquiring Simmons before the trade deadline, to step in and give the Sixers an offer they can not refuse. Of all the players on the Kings roster, Tyrese Haliburton would fit the best in Philadelphia. It is debatable whether Haliburton – who is averaging 13.7 points and 7.1 assists while shooting 42.9 percent from deep this season – is currently a top-40 player. However, he would fit perfectly with both Embiid and Tyrese Maxey due to his ability to play point and space the floor with his 3-point shooting.

However, as Morey said multiple times throughout the interview, a trade before the deadline is unlikely to happen. The Sixers are not going to break from the patient approach they have been holding to, and they are not afraid to have this last well beyond this season if necessary.

"I think it's less likely than likely, but hopefully I'm wrong," Morey said. "Look, it won't be from lack of trying. We have a whole team of front office [personnel], it's all we do. We have no other job that matters, it's all we're working on. And I only say less likely, it won't be because we don't want to do it, it will be because for whatever reason, I mean I can tell you that these other 29 teams, none of them wake up and say, hey, today, how can I help the 76ers get better? They're all worried about their own teams. The main reason I say less likely than likely is it takes two or three to tango. Trades are not easy to construct in this league, there's a lot of risk aversion, there's a lot of decision-makers that have to be hurdled."

There are many different ways the trade deadline could go for the Sixers, and Morey certainly will keep his cards close to the vest over the coming days and weeks leading into the deadline. The trade deadline is on Feb. 10 and the rumors will continue to fly right up until the last moment.

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