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November 23, 2020

Does Daryl Morey have something big in the works?

The new Sixers boss hasn't made a franchise-altering move yet, but it's starting to feel like he's laying the groundwork for one.

NBA Free Agency
Daryl-morey_102820_usat Troy Taormina/USA TODAY Sports

New Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey telling former boss and Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta that he's gonna need James Harden for the price of, eh, on the house.

Sure, the Sixers have made a few crucial moves so far in free agency and on the trade market. And while many of them were necessary to begin fixing what turned out to be a broken team in 2020, none have been franchise-altering moves. 

But that doesn't mean there isn't still time. 

There might only be a month left until the start of the 2020-21 season, but it's a fair bet that Daryl Morey will continue shaping this team beyond that if he sees fit. And there's an argument to be made that at least some of the moves he's made so far this offseason have been to better position his team to make a bigger splash down the line. 

In trading Al Horford, the Sixers freed a ton of salary cap space and brought back a valuable piece in Danny Green, who aside from being the kind of guy almost any team would like to add at the deadline, he's also on an expiring contract. As is Tony Bradley, who the Sixers acquired on Sunday from the Pistons in a trade for Zhaire Smith. And in moving Josh Richardson for Seth Curry, the Sixers saved themselves a small amount of money but added a player who was a much better fit on the roster. And on the opening night of free agency, the team acquired Dwight Howard on a cheap, one-year deal.

All these moves sort of feel like Morey is trying to load up on contracts that he can flip if something bigger should present itself, perhaps at the trade deadline when, say, the Rockets might be more willing to move James Harden. The Sixers just need to put together a team that can keep them afloat until the deadline. Given the moves they've already made, coupled with the players left on the market and a full MLE in their back pocket, they shouldn't have an issue accomplishing that.

David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News broke it down nicely in his latest column:

For the moment, it would be unwise to assume that the Sixers are determined to add a star-caliber player before the start of the season. Given the expedited offseason and the uncertainty surrounding the season and the two years remaining on James Harden’s contract, there isn’t much incentive for the Rockets to immediately acquiesce to their star’s trade demands. On the free-agent front, the Sixers would have needed a sign-and-trade and some serious maneuvering to shop at the top of the market, and the one player who might have been a realistic target -- the Kings’ Bogdan Bogdanovic, who has reportedly signed an offer sheet with the Hawks after a reported deal with the Bucks fell through -- is close to being off the market. While Morey has given the Sixers more flexibility to match any salary requirements in a trade, he still doesn’t have much beyond Simmons or Embiid to entice a team to part with a bona fide star.

All of this leaves us waiting to see what he has in mind for the one or two players who would leave the Sixers with a rotation that is capable of carrying them to the trade deadline. The free-agent market still has a handful of names you can talk yourself into: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson as a defensive wing with some ball-handling ability who could back up Simmons, Reggie Jackson as a point guard who can knock down a three-pointer. The trade market includes a variety of veteran point guards, including George Hill, who has already been traded twice this season and is currently laying over in Oklahoma City, with whom the Sixers have yet to officially complete the Horford trade.  []

So, will Morey and Co. wait patiently to strike an in-season trade for a star player? Or will they try to get something down in the 30 days before the NBA season tips off? Currently the Sixers have the 10th-best odds to win an NBA title this year, according to, so they may need a big move in order to be considered realistic contenders. But no matter what happens, we'll have you covered with all the latest news and rumors from around the NBA right here in our live tracker. And should the Sixers make any moves on this Monday, we'll top this post off with the relevant news.

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