Executives with Morey’s experience, winning track record and aggressiveness rarely become available, and his analytical approach makes him an intriguing target for the 76ers, who have a bloated salary cap sheet and veteran roster with ill-fitting pieces.
Morey’s teams have favored small ball in recent years, and Brand’s 76ers’ have built a monstrous front line around all-star center Joel Embiid. Morey’s teams also repeatedly have led the league in three-pointers, yet Ben Simmons, the 76ers’ lead ballhandler, is notorious for refusing to take them.
“I always say that I want to end my career here,” Embiid said after the 76ers’ season ended, hinting at his uncertain future. “If it happens, good. If it doesn’t happen, well, you move on and all that stuff.”
But Morey, 48, has long prized talent over chemistry, and his first task in Philadelphia would be to determine whether he believes in a duo that has generated significant skepticism and endured a lengthy list of injuries. Other recent high-priced veteran signings such as Al Horford and Tobias Harris could soon find themselves in trade rumors as the NBA enters what is expected to be an abbreviated free agency period in November.
Philadelphia’s proposed front-office overhaul would reunite Morey and Rivers, whose careers overlapped during their shared time with the Boston Celtics. It also would rekindle talk of the “Trust the Process” era, a multiyear tanking effort led by former 76ers general manager Sam Hinkie, who spent years under Morey in Houston. The 76ers previously attempted to hire Morey in 2018 after firing Hinkie’s successor, Bryan Colangelo.
For the 76ers, who have spent years changing course and cycling through executives, Morey could represent a stabilizing force. During his 13-year tenure, the Rockets won the second-most regular season games in the league and advanced to the playoffs 10 times. Seven of the Rockets’ 10 best seasons in their 53-year history came under Morey, including a franchise-record 65 wins during the 2017-18 season. Houston’s eight-year playoff run is the NBA’s longest active streak. Morey announced his resignation in mid-October after a tumultuous season that started with his controversial support of Hong Kong protesters, which angered the Chinese government and cost the league hundreds of millions of dollars, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said, and ended with a disappointing second-round playoff exit.
Brand, 41, was hired as a first-time general manager in 2018 after a lengthy playing career. His two-year tenure has been marked by bold moves that have backfired. His 2018 trade for Jimmy Butler delivered a second-round playoff appearance but ultimately saw the all-star forward leave for the Miami Heat in free agency. His 2019 signings of Harris and Horford have given the 76ers one of the NBA’s highest committed payrolls entering the 2020-21 season.
Read more on the NBA: