More Sports:

February 02, 2022

Eytan Shander: Sixers' Daryl Morey is in a no-win situation

Opinion Sixers
Daryl_Morey_1_Hornets_Sixers_Frese.jpg Kate Frese/for PhillyVoice

Philadelphia 76ers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey.

I do not envy Daryl Morey’s position.

Ben Simmons continues to devalue himself on the trade market just by opening his mouth. It’s hard to pinpoint the epicenter but Simmons appears to be an amalgamation of bad advice. The latest comments blaming Joel Embiid for a loss to Toronto — that clearly wasn’t his fault — should remind us how difficult trading Simmons truly is for Morey.

This is not anything preemptive, like taking Morey off the hook ahead of time for a bad, trade or even worse, no trade at all. There isn’t anything that’s happened to change my opinion that Morey and the Sixers are making a huge mistake not trading Simmons in-season, as hard as it may be to deal a numbskull. But Simmons blaming the team and their superstar player is bogus, and teams have taken notice.

Simmons possesses a unique set of abilities, which already made it more difficult than the norm to deal him. It’s been hard for anyone to define his actual value, be it a caller on the radio or Morey himself. We should all understand this is a difficult – at best – process.

Ah, that word again.

It's hard to escape it when that brought us to this point. It’s the franchise-center’s freaking nickname. That is what’s riding on this deal.


The process got us Embiid as much as it got us failures like Simmons (or Jahlil Okafor, or Markelle Fultz). We sat there and rightfully defended the selection of Embiid to “fans” who didn’t understand why they would take an injured player out of college. As the team continued to lose on purpose, ignorant fans,and media alike blamed Embiid. I remember, I took your calls.

This year is about so much more than just winning the MVP. It should be about combining the individual run from Embiid with a championship run for the city. We deserve to see this team get a true shot. They certainly do.

Morey has no choice but to capitalize on this season. He can’t let this year go to waste – as “no trade” would all but seal the inevitability of losing to a deeper team in the playoffs. Nothing has changed for me, nor should it for you.

Nothing has changed, nor will it, for any team out there either. Outside of a sign-and-trade that would happen in the offseason with James Harden, nothing with any other team is going to change from right now. Think of how much pressure is on Morey to get this trade right, and then how much it multiplies if he chooses to wait until the offseason.

It’s overwhelming to contemplate how much is riding on one single deal, but remember, this was what the plan was all about from the jump. This is why you trust Morey to make the right move, because hiring him was the right move.

This wasn’t a man inserted by the NBA at the behest of his father to run a team into the ground. Morey needs to get this right and has only one mulligan here.

If – although I vehemently disagree with this strategy – Morey and the Sixers hold on the deadline, not making any move outside of a Danny Green salary dump, then there’s nothing else to do but the Harden deal.

That’s it. That’s the deal.

Wasting an MVP season, and the amazing goodwill story that follows, it is a tragedy. We have no idea about how long this window will stay open for Embiid, combined with how much work and patience went into this season.

Anyone who ever yelled and screamed about Embiid’s diet, or inability to stay healthy, or some other criticism about his work ethic should be standing up right now demanding a Simmons trade. We wouldn’t be in the position of anger and frustration of not having a deal yet if we didn’t trust Morey.

And then, dare I ask, what happens if they can’t get Harden?

We would then be faced with two non-competing mutually inclusive realities. They wasted perhaps the best single season ever from Embiid and the team could wind up trading for a player they could have gotten mid-season. Normally that may make sense, the fallback option being a player you know you can get, as a deal was there at the deadline. But nothing about this situation is normal. Not Simmons, the story that brought Embiid here, the unconventional building of the team, or how truly wide open the NBA is this year. The magnitude of what’s riding on this deal gives me anxiety just thinking about it.

I shudder to think about the realistic possibility of missing out on a trade this year, then missing out on Harden in the offseason. Bringing back Tyrese Haliburton or CJ McCollum in October isn’t going to do anything to replace the likely bittersweet ending of this regular season. Especially since it could have been done last week, or last month.

Ultimately, Simmons can’t stay. The rantings and ravings of a lunatic shouldn’t hang any dark cloud over a special season for one of the most endearing athletes we’ve seen in our city.


Super Bowl MVP: Cooper Kupp +650 | Odell Beckham Jr. +2500

While the quarterbacks will always dominate this award from odds to actually winning it, we have an interesting pathway here for the two receivers. First, we need the Rams to win. This doesn’t work without that key component. Next, we need a game script that sees one of these guys dominate the Bengals. It's not hard to see, as Kupp is the best receiver in the NFL and OBJ would be the next guy up if Cincinnati shuts down Kupp (as difficult as that may seem).

Both players have a narrative behind them that could lift them over Matthew Stafford – again with the assumption that the majority of yards and TD(s) went to the one receiver. Kupp should be in the MVP conversation and will lose Offensive Player of the Year to Johnathan Taylor. It would be a perfect consolation prize. Beckham, well, the story kind of writes itself. The media frenzy and think pieces would keep us busy through the NFL draft, and then right through the offseason. 

Follow Eytan on Twitter: @shandershow

You can listen to Eytan on @foxphlgambler (Mon.-Weds., 6-8 p.m.)

Like us on Facebook: PhillyVoice Sports