PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The Philadelphia 76ers are in advanced negotiations with former Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey to become president of basketball operations as part of their front-office overhaul that began after an underachieving season, multiple people with direct knowledge of the negotiations told The Associated Press.
The deal is expected to be finalized as early as this weekend, according to the people who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity Wednesday because it has not been made official. Elton Brand will remain general manager, they said.
Morey stepped down as GM of the Rockets earlier this month after blockbuster moves that failed to lead the franchise to the NBA Finals. The Rockets made the playoffs 10 times since Morey was hired in 2007, including the last eight seasons, for the longest active streak in the NBA.
He was responsible for the trade that brought James Harden to Houston from Oklahoma City. The Rockets reached the Western Conference finals twice under Morey but were unable to win their first championship since consecutive titles in 1994-95.
Houston went 640-400 under Morey and won a franchise-record 65 regular-season games in the 2017-18 season.
The Sixers named Doc Rivers coach this month as they chase their first NBA championship since 1983. They also brought in former Saint Joseph’s star and NBA player Jameer Nelson as a scout and hired former Pacers executive Peter Dinwiddie as executive vice president of basketball operations. Prosper Karangwa was hired away from Orlando and brought in as VP of player personnel.
Morey and the Rockets split a little over a year after he sparked a rift between the NBA and Chinese government. Morey caused an international uproar last year when he tweeted support for anti-government protesters in Hong Kong. Morey tweeted an image that said: “Fight For Freedom. Stand With Hong Kong,” a reference to pro-democracy demonstrations in the semiautonomous Chinese territory that had been mired in escalating violence between protesters and law enforcement.
The tweet caused businesses in China to cut ties with the Rockets and broadcasters there refused to air the team’s games this season. NBA telecasts in China, however, resumed during the recent NBA Finals.
Morey’s old tweets were brought to light again on Wednesday — though in much more amusing fashion for Sixers fans. There was one from Feb. 4, 2018, of a photo of the gang from “ It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia ” dressed as eagles. The date, as any good Eagles fan will tell you, was the day the franchise won the Super Bowl. There was another from October 2017 in which he criticized the Sixers for “ their terrible move of sacking @samhinkie.”
Sam Hinkie was the former general manager who designed “The Process” in Philadelphia — the act of stripping the roster of talent in order to rebuild through draft picks and salary cap space to go after big stars. Hinkie worked under Morey in Houston before taking the job in Philadelphia and led the Sixers through one of the worst stretches of basketball in NBA history.
The Sixers eventually gave up on Hinkie’s grand design and churned through general managers and the Brett Brown coaching era with little to show for it. They went to back-to-back Eastern Conference semifinal appearances but were swept by Boston in the first round this season, which led to Brown’s exit.
The Sixers believed they were ready to contend for their first championship in 37 years and Brand spent $180 million to re-sign Tobias Harris and nearly $100 million to sign free agent Al Horford away from Boston. Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid emerged from The Process to become All-Stars and earn hefty contracts but have yet to prove they can carry the Sixers into serious championship contention.
The Sixers had only snippets of consistent success and Brown paid the price. Team owners Josh Harris and David Blitzer have been aggressive at reshaping the front office while keeping Brand aboard as the face of the organization.
Hinkie started The Process and now it’s up to Morey, if hired, to finally complete what his onetime underling started. He’d have to get right to work. The Sixers have the No. 21 pick in the first round and four second-round selections in the Nov. 18 draft.
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