Two Key Takeaways from Daryl Morey’s 97.5 the Fanatic Appearance

Photo Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Good interview with Daryl Morey on 97.5 the Fanatic Thursday afternoon. Mikey Miss asked the right questions.

They should do more stuff like this on the Fanatic. Lean on their broadcast partnerships with the Sixers and Flyers* to get exclusive guests on their shows, same way WIP has the Phillies manager and Eagles head coach on every week.

*This would be contingent on them giving a shit about the Flyers

Anyway, Morey said several interesting things in the process of speaking indirectly to Ben Simmons and Klutch Sports. A good portion of this interview was posturing on the Sixers’ part, but there was enough honesty to make for a proper analysis of what we heard.

Two key takeaways from my standpoint:

No role players, only “difference makers”

Morey reiterated several times throughout the interview that he wouldn’t ship off Ben Simmons for “role players,” and that the trigger would only be pulled if it brought back a “difference maker” in return.

This is the right strategy, because the Sixers have leverage right now and don’t need to act. They can afford to wait, because the team they have right now is good enough to rip off enough wins without Ben Simmons. They’ll stay afloat. There’s nothing forcing them to take back peanuts in return for a multiple-time All Star.

But you then get into arbitrary territory, i.e. how do you define “role player?” And what is a “difference maker?”

Is a difference maker an All-Star? Because they aren’t getting one of those back right now. But is somebody on the All-Star threshold a role player? Tobias Harris is one of those guys, and he’s pretty damn good. Devin Booker and De’Aaron Fox didn’t make the ASG, and you’d trade Ben Simmons for either one right now. Very easily. The Sixers need to get back a perimeter player who can handle the ball, and Morey will pull the trigger if the right deal becomes available.

He’s right that “role players” don’t make the Sixers better, but at least “role players” will be on the floor and contributing, as opposed to sitting at home and playing Call of Duty.

Four more years?

The media-friendly quote was when Morey said this:

“You’re going to think I’m kidding; I’m not. This could be four years. The conditions I’m pointing out to you don’t change. Unless Ben Simmons is traded for a difference-maker, we’re in the prime of Joel’s career. We have to get back either Ben Simmons playing well for us, who helps us win the championship, or we have to get back a difference-maker for Ben Simmons. Or this could be four years from now, and we’re still like, ‘Hey, we took the best shot at it we could.’ 

There’s a 0% chance of this happening, yet every media outlet ran with this hyperbolic quote, because it’s a good quote. It sells. It pulls people in.

This was basically Daryl Morey telling Rich Paul that he’s willing to play the waiting game, and he did a brilliant job of getting this to circulate, because EVERYBODY is sharing the quote on social and using it in their headlines.

If this stand off went anywhere close to four years, Morey would be fired, Joel Embiid’s prime would be wasted, and the Sixers would win absolutely nothing. So no, they’re not going to endure a four-year game of chicken. At the very latest, this probably goes up to the trade deadline for this season.

The bottom line is that it’s always been about maximizing Joel Embiid’s prime, which corresponds with the Sixers’ championship window. That’s why you don’t have the luxury of waiting too long to get back something for Ben Simmons. Joel is 27 years old with injury history, and it would be folly to think he can keep playing at this level into his thirties. The conditions do change, and Morey knows that. Right now you’re essentially playing $30 million below the salary cap because one of your three stars is pouting. The Sixers can’t afford to let a max player just sit indefinitely because they aren’t good enough to win the East, or the championship, with the situation currently looking like this.

There was also this quote:

“I would ask the question to Sixers fans, would you rather eliminate what people perceive to be a distraction – I don’t – or would you rather have worse playoff odds, a worse chance to win a title? I’m focused on winning a title. I’ll go through mud, muck, over barbed wire. We all will. Doc Rivers, Joel Embiid, Tobias Harris – we will go through whatever it takes. Whatever process, whatever pain, whatever hill we have to climb, whatever thing we have to deal with that helps the 76ers win the title, we’re going to do it.

It’s annoying to you, but I’m telling you it’s not annoying to us. Never does it get me annoyed. It is a uniting factor right now.”

Morey knows what he’s doing here. I think Sixers fans should feel confident that he’s going to come out of this on top. He’s reason #1 why they were so good last year, because he moved Al Horford and Josh Richardson and created a team that maximized the Simmons+Embiid+Harris trio. He knows he doesn’t have to do anything now, and so he’ll sit back and evaluate the landscape, see what happens with Damian Lillard, and go from there.

It’s the NBA. A lot can change in a short amount of time.

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