Sixers president Daryl Morey met with reporters today for the first time since his team was bounced from the playoffs Sunday night and it didn’t take long for the conversation to turn to Ben Simmons, writes Tim Bontemps of ESPN.
Morey was asked several times during the virtual press conference if he expects the former No. 1 pick to be on the roster next season. He didn’t make a definite commitment on Simmons’ future and said, “I think it’s pretty straightforward what certain players need to improve.”
That statement echoes comments Simmons made Sunday night about his poor free throw shooting and lack of offense in general. He shot 34.7% from the foul line in the playoffs and scored a combined 19 points in the final three games of the conference semifinals.
Coach Doc Rivers has said the team plans intensive offseason shooting work for Simmons, who disappeared offensively in the fourth quarter throughout the Atlanta series.
Morey didn’t tip his hand on his plans for Simmons.
“We have a very strong group we believe in,” he said. “None of us can predict the future of what’s going to happen in any, in any place. We love what Ben brings, we love what Joel (Embiid) brings, we love what Tobias (Harris) brings, in terms of what’s next we’re gonna do what’s best for the 76ers to give us the best chance to win the championship with every single player on the roster.”
Morey attributed the second-round loss to issues with the offense and said the team needs to become more efficient on that end of the floor. He said he’s still processing the unexpected defeat and admits the Sixers are a long way from where he wants them to be.
“I think if you replay that Game 7 a bunch of times and, you know, we execute better, then we win,” Morey said. “But look, reality is reality. We didn’t do it and, and frankly if we’re squeaking by the second round that just tells me we’re not, we’re unfortunately not good enough, probably to win the title so we need to get better. But, you know, the game, that series, is still incredibly painful.”
He singled out the effort by Embiid, who played the entire semifinal series with a small meniscus tear in his right knee. Even though he admitted being limited by the injury, Embiid averaged 30.4 points and 12.7 rebounds in the seven games.
Morey added that Embiid will receive a full medical review from the team’s doctors before any decision is made about offseason surgery.
Morey also addressed the negative stories that have been written about the team since Sunday’s loss, contending the dire public perception of the organization isn’t deserved.
“People (are) saying the Sixers are in a bad situation,” he said. “I don’t choose to come here, (Rivers) doesn’t choose to come here if this is a bad situation. I mean, really 25 or 26 teams in this league would love to be in our situation with an MVP-caliber top player and All-Star, near All-Star, great young players who are signed for the long term, good veterans. So, we’ve got a good foundation. We just have to do better, I have to do better, everyone has to do better.”