Morey gives Embiid-Simmons combo thumbs up

Dan Gelston
·3-min read

Can the Philadelphia 76ers win a championship with All-Stars Joel Embiid and Australian Ben Simmons on the roster?

That has been the question following the 76ers for three years, after each game Embiid fails to keep his conditioning issues under control and Simmons keeps his three-point shot tucked into his designer shorts.

The doubt seems almost inconceivable given the talent possessed by the 24-year-old Simmons and 26-year-old Embiid and - certainly, at times - the pair have shown flashes of championship credentials.

But the franchise was no closer to an answer in the Brett Brown-era, as the well ran dry with Sam Hinkie and Bryan Colangelo failing to crack the championship code which led to one of the biggest overhauls under Josh Harris and David Blitzer's ownership.

On Monday, the Sixers lifted the curtain on the Daryl Morey era, the former Houston Rockets executive now tasked with running Philadelphia's basketball operations.

By his side at the team complex were new coach Doc Rivers and general manager Elton Brand - an attempt at a new collaboration after Brand deemed previous combinations "didn't work."

The early returns show a regime determined to gut it out with Simmons and Embiid on the roster.

"My goal is to win us a championship, so whatever gets us there is what we'll do," Morey said. "But, I will say, to have two star-plus players at 24 and 26 years old, that is why I couldn't get Doc Rivers to interview in Houston."

Morey's unemployment after his split with Houston lasted about as long as Rivers' time off after he left the Los Angeles Clippers.

Pressed on Embiid and Simmons, Morey quipped he was low on the tenure board.

"I think they absolutely can work together," Morey said, "but Doc's been here a little longer than me. I'll turn to him. He's thought even longer on how they can work together."

Brand had complained the Sixers essentially had too many cooks in the kitchen and a shakeup was underway not long after the Sixers were swept by Boston in the first round of the playoffs.

Morey and Rivers come with sizable track records but the days of the lose-first rebuild are long gone.

So what worked in Houston will work in Philly?

Not necessarily, though it's easy to draw a correlation between the Yao Ming-Tracy McGrady era with the Rockets with what Morey has to work with in Philadelphia.

The Rockets, though, made the three-pointer king in the NBA. They averaged 45.3 3-pointers per game, tops in NBA.

The Sixers were 22nd in the league with 31.6 attempts - and Simmons hit only two (two of 24 lifetime).

"The goal is not to shoot three-pointers, the goal is to win," Morey said. "The best way to win in the NBA is to take your talent and figure out how to utilise them the best (way).

"It's not to take your talent and hammer it into a particular system. It's to try and get the most out of what you have."

The Sixers don't have much outside of Simmons and Embiid except for bad contracts and a mismatched roster. Morey was blunt when he said "we're not the favourites" and knows there's a long road ahead to win the East, much less the title.

They want Embiid and Simmons to come along for the ride.

"We have to change the narrative," Rivers said. "They haven't won yet, not that they can't win."