Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey has expanded his trade options due to the MVP-caliber play of Joel Embiid, but he remains cautious about making a blockbuster deal prior to next month’s deadline, he said in an radio interview on 97.5 The Fanatic (hat tip to Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice.com).
Morey acknowledges that the play of Embiid and his teammates makes him more motivated to upgrade the team for a championship push.
“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 the number of deals we would do more likely,” Morey said. “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.
“[Before], we absolutely need 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.”
Of course, the main path to making such a deal would be to move Ben Simmons. Throughout the season, Morey has put an exorbitant price tag on Simmons. Morey’s comment suggests he’s more open to getting a package that won’t include a “top-30” player.
As Neubeck speculates, Morey may be trying to motivate a potential trade partner such as the Kings to include a promising player like Tyrese Haliburton, who could eventually develop into an All-Star.
Morey admits that he’s “frustrated” by not having a “whole team” due to Simmons remaining inactive.
“We do have a big chunk of our pretty constrained salary that we can pay the players not playing,” he said. “That’s very frustrating…and then there’s teams that are frustrated because they’re losing or not quite as good as they thought they would be, and that’s creating a lot of chatter.”
Yet he’s not necessarily optimistic that the chatter will lead to an impactful trade.
“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?'” he said. “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.”
Morey also doesn’t want to make a deal for some well-known players that will only marginally help their chances of reaching the Finals.
‘That will hurt Joel, that will hurt the 76ers, that will hurt our whole roster in the long run more than if we’re patient,” Morey added.
Thus far, there’s hasn’t been an offer that comes within the range of what Morey is willing to do, according to the radio station’s Twitter feed (link). Morey did say there are trade packages with the Kings that could work, but doubts he’ll get such an offer, which may require a third team.