CAMDEN, NJ – Philadelphia 76ers basketball president Daryl Morey has said coach Doc Rivers will be back next season for a third year with the franchise.
“I think he’s a great coach,” Murray said during Friday night ‘s exit interviews following the Sixers’s exclusion from the Miami Heat last night in the Eastern Conference semifinals. “I like working with him. I feel like I’m learning from him. I think so [general manager] Elton [Brand] he and I make a great team, and we will see where this journey will take us.
“But we feel very good about where it will lead us and it will be where we have a very good chance of winning the title.”
That has been the goal of each of the previous two seasons in Philadelphia, since Murray arrived from the Houston Rockets and Rivers from the LA Clippers: to bring this team to a level that has not been reached for a generation. The 76ers have not reached the second round of the playoffs – where they have now lost four times in five years – since reaching the NBA Finals in 2001.
The 76ers have not won an NBA championship since 1983.
Morey reiterated that goal when he traded Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, Andre Drummond and two first-round drafts for James Harden in this season’s trade deal.
On Friday, Morey repeatedly said the 76ers were looking forward to the offseason finding ways to “unlock” Harden, who was unbearable in the playoffs (18.6 points, 8.6 assists) and clear his place next door. to superstar center Joel Embiid.
When asked several times directly if this meant Harden had more levels to reach or if fans had to lower their expectations for the former NBA MVP to move on, Morey skilfully danced the question without answering it.
Instead, Morey said Rivers and his staff are looking forward to finding ways to use Harden.
“Look. He’s an incredibly talented player,” said Morey. “Just like Joel, just like Tobias [Harris]. And I’m excited that Doc and his staff will have a whole off-season to work with the players and come up with the best roster for the roster. … Gathering everything in February, it is very difficult to try to understand how to … “unlock” all the different skills of the players and how they can work together.
“We all know he is a very capable player and we will find out how to use him.”
Morey also followed Harden’s statement that, as he considers what to do with his player selection this summer, he will return to Philadelphia next season.
“This is the plan, this is to have it back,” Morey said. “That was the plan from the trade. Obviously, we have to work with his representation and that will be between us to understand how it works.”
Overall, though, it was a melancholy mood – as one would expect for a team that came out of the playoffs the way it did, with two consecutive bad defeats by the Heat.
“Well, we’re sick,” Morey said. “We are here because we have great ambitions. I know our fans do it too. … That’s why we’re here. That’s why we’re doing this. So it ‘s hard to be here right now. Still emotional.
“[But] Look, we’re excited about what we can build from here. We think of many things we can improve on and that is myself, that is it [Brand], this is at Coach Rivers. We will understand this. “But we feel we have a lot to build on.”
While Philadelphia has a strong foundation to build on, simply thanks to Embiid’s presence, there is still a lot of work to be done. Miami star Jimmy Butler was able to get what he wanted against the 76ers defensively in this series and perimeter defense has been a permanent problem all season. Depth was also an issue.
Morey said the defense would be the focus, while Rivers echoed Embiid’s statements that the team needed more toughness to move forward.
“Well, I think it’s something our players can develop,” Morey said of the lack of mental toughness that is a common theme in retirement interviews with players. “I mean you’re going through a loss and how do you respond to that and how do you take it as your own look in the mirror. I think we all have to look in the mirror and say, ‘How can we be better?’ for myself”.
In the end, though, what the 76ers did in the last two seasons is no better than what the previous three did in terms of how well they made it to the postseason. But advancing to the playoffs is not an easy feat, Rivers said, and requires an up-and-down learning curve for an organization to do so.
“Because winning is difficult,” Rivers said. “You just do not show up and say” Okay, guys. We are moving forward. “It’s difficult. We are not the only organization. It is difficult to move forward. We had a chance last year, we did not succeed. This year was difficult. I mean, obviously, with all the injuries and other things, so the answers are easy. We’re right there. We’re putting ourselves in conflict. And that’s all you can do. And then you come back and keep working until you get over the mountain.
“Milwaukee, you look at them, it took two or three years to cross the mountain. That’s exactly the way it works. It’s not guaranteed to anyone.”