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May 06, 2024

The Sixers need a high-level wing and Daryl Morey has all the resources to get them one

A big offseason is coming up for the Sixers, and whether it's through landing Paul George or someone else, they need that last piece to complement Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey.

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Daryl-Morey-Sixers-Press-Conference-12.15.2023.jpg Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports

Daryl Morey and the Sixers face a pivotal offseason.

Sixers president Daryl Morey met with the media over in Camden on Monday in a scenario that has long become painfully – or perhaps at this point apathetically – regular to many fans: Another end-of-year press conference and another look ahead to a pivotal offseason after yet another early playoff exit. 

Eight years into the Joel Embiid era and coming up on four for Morey's tenure, and the Sixers are still looking for answers – and that last breakthrough to finally surge into true championship contention.

But oddly, the sting didn't feel nearly as devastating this time around. 

The Sixers fell to a tough Knicks team, 4-2, in a first-round playoff defeat that isn't even a week old yet, and yeah, Embiid wasn't fully healthy – again – and the team shot themselves in the foot – a bunch. But they kept battling.

Just when most thought them dead in the water after a defensive drubbing in Game 4, they go back to Madison Square Garden for Game 5 and find a new lease on life in an overtime thriller sparked by Tyrese Maxey having the performance of a lifetime. Then they came back to Philly and climbed all the way back from a 22-point hole, taking everyone watching on a rollercoaster before the Knicks rediscovered their own way to close out. 

But there was a pulse. There was heart. And looking ahead now, there's going to be a whole lot of room over the summer – from cap space to roster spots – to try and really revamp the team, with the most pressing task, Morey said Monday, being in finding a high-level wing that can complement Embiid and Maxey, especially in those high-stakes playoff moments. 

Adding to that: Age isn't going to be a deterring factor in the search, Morey said. 

"Obviously you have to factor in age," he explained. "But we most are looking for – we feel like we're in the window where we have to win now. We're mostly focused on getting the best players to fit with Joel and Tyrese."

Which immediately feeds into rumors surrounding the 34-year old Paul George, who is due up for a new contract and with his future as a Clipper highly uncertain after their own first-round exit, and possibly a reunion with the also 34-year old Jimmy Butler, who has had murmurs of hitting a crossroads with the Heat that could open up room for a trade. 

Only Embiid, Maxey (though he needs an extension), Paul Reed, and Ricky Council IV are guaranteed to be back for next season, which means there will be money to spend, and the Sixers have the advantage of a re-stocked cupboard of draft picks to work with in negotiations. 

They're short on time with only so much of Embiid's prime left, but not on options over these next few months.

"I think as long as players are playing at a high level, we're focused on Joel and Tyrese, and we're focused on now," Morey said. "So you have to factor in age because I have to look at more than just one season. But the reality is similar to we put most of our focus on the team when Joel is available, we put most of our focus on the now versus the future with where Joel is in his prime."

To that end, Morey praised Embiid's toughness in the latter half of the season to make his way back to the floor from injury and stay on it, and Maxey for taking another big leap forward with more responsibility, all while acknowledging his own failure to provide the team with enough depth to get by when Embiid wasn't on the court, and the fact that the roster isn't going to have a whole lot of continuity from this past season to the next. 

But the core is still going to be there, and with a full year under head coach Nick Nurse now, it lends confidence to Morey that there is still a way to make this work. 

"I think Joel, Tyrese, and Nick give me the confidence that we have a good shot," the Sixers president said. "Look, most of the paths you go down in the NBA lead to a dead end because they're only letting one team win while 29 teams are having this press conference every year. I think we put ourselves in a good position most years to win, and I just gotta keep working hard to put us in an even better position. 

"We have an opportunity to do that this offseason."

Though it may be one of their last.

MORE: Sixers offseason FAQ

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