CAMDEN, N.J. — Philadelphia 76ersPresident of basketball operations Daryl Morey stated that Doc Rivers will be returning next season as coach for the third time with the franchise.
“I just think that he's great coach,” Morey stated during Friday's exit interviews following the Sixers' defeat on Friday. Miami Heatin the Eastern Conference semifinals. He is a great person to work with. I feel like I'm learning something from him. Elton is my hero. [Brand, GM]He and I make a great team and we look forward to seeing where this journey takes us.
“But, we feel very positive about where it will take us and where it's going to take us, so it's where we have a very high chance of winning the title.”
Since Morey's arrival from Mexico, this has been Philadelphia's goal for the past two seasons. RocketsRivers and Rivers LA ClippersTo take this team to a level it hasn’t reached in a generation. Since 2001, the 76ers have lost four of their last five seasons in the playoffs.
Since 1983, the 76ers aren't a winner of an NBA championship.
Morey reiterated the goal when he traded Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, Andre DrummondTwo picks in the first round James HardenThe trade deadline was the blockbuster deal of this season.
Morey repeated Friday that the 76ers were looking forward to spending the offseason “unlocking” Harden who was underwhelming during the playoffs (18.6 point, 8.6 assists) and to make the team more fit with superstar center Joel Embiid.
Morey artfully danced around this question when asked repeatedly if Harden had more goals or if the fans should be less optimistic about the former NBA MVP.
Morey, however, said that he looks forward to Rivers finding ways to make use of Harden with his staff.
“Look. Morey stated that he is an incredibly talented player. Joel and Tobias are the same. [Harris]. Doc and his staff should have an entire offseason to work together with the players and create the best roster plan. It is very difficult to figure out how to unlock all the skills and work together when everything comes together in February.
“We all know that he is a skilled player, and we'll figure how to use him.”
Morey also followed-up on Harden's announcement that, while he decides what to do about his player option, he will return to Philadelphia next season.
Morey stated that “That's our plan, it is to get him back.” That's the plan since the trade. We have to work together with his representation, and that will be between us to determine how that works.”
Overall it was melancholy, as one would expect from a team that bounced out the playoffs in such a manner, with two consecutive ugly losses to Heat.
Morey stated, “Well, it's sick.” “We are here because we have high aspirations. I'm sure that our fans share the same as me. … It's why they're here. This is why we do what we do. It's hard to be right now. Still emotional.
“[But]Look, we are excited about the possibilities. We see a lot of areas that can be improved upon, and that's just me. [Brand]Coach Rivers. We are going to solve this. We feel there is a lot more to be done.
Embiid's presence has given Philadelphia a solid foundation. However, there are still many things to do. Miami star Jimmy ButlerIn this series, he was able to score what he wanted. The 76ers were a tough opponent defensively. Depth was also an issue.
Rivers agreed with Embiid that defense would be a key focus. Morey also stated that defense was going to be a major focus.
Morey stated that a lack mental toughness is a common theme of exit interviews with players. I mean losing and how you handle it and how you look at yourself in the mirror. We all need to take a look in the mirror and ask ourselves, “How can we all be better?” I think that's what we all need to do.
The 76ers' postseason performance over the past two seasons, however, is not better than their previous three. Rivers explained that it's not easy to make the playoffs, but that there are many lessons to be learned from every level of an organization.
Rivers said, “Because it's hard to win.” “You don’t show up, and you just say OK guys. We're moving forward. It's hard. It's not easy for everyone. It's difficult to move forward. Last year we had the chance, but didn't make it happen. This year was hard. It was difficult because of all the injuries and other stuff. It's hard. It's hard. We are the ones who have to be involved in the argument. That's all you have to do. You can then come back to it again and continue working until you reach the top.
“Milwaukee: You look at them, it took 2 or 3 years to cross the mountain. This is how it works. It's not possible for anyone to be certain.