Daryl Morey's all-in, aggressive style that's built around analytical decisions has made him arguably the most well-known NBA executive in recent years. Ten years ago, Morey pulled off a forward-thinking, franchise-altering trade for the Houston Rockets, acquiring Oklahoma City Thunder sixth man James Harden. Houston sent Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb, two future first-round picks and a second-round pick to Oklahoma City for Harden, Cole Aldrich, Daequan Cook and Lazar Hayward.
Morey saw something in Harden that others missed, and he empowered his new superstar to become the face of the Houston Rockets. When diving into Harden’s advanced-metrics portfolio during his three seasons in Oklahoma City, the Rockets’ former GM realized that Harden could potentially put up star-like numbers if given more of a primary offensive role. In short order, Harden accomplished that lofty goal while making himself one of the most unique, dynamic scorers in modern NBA history.
Now, in a completely new situation as the head of basketball operations for the Philadelphia 76ers, Morey is making another eccentric push for excellence with Harden as a cornerstone. Kudos to Morey, because he won his longstanding battle with former No. 1 pick Ben Simmons.
After a disastrous end to last season, Simmons decided he would never play a single minute for the Sixers again — even with four years remaining on his rookie-scale max extension. Six months and around $20 million in fines later, Simmons is now a member of the Brooklyn Nets and Morey landed his most-coveted star once again.
This time around, Morey acquired Harden by sending Simmons, Seth Curry, Andre Drummond and two future first-round picks to Brooklyn.
Forming a potentially historic offensive duo with Joel Embiid and Harden, Morey didn’t shy away from the Sixers’ new expectations for 2021-22 and beyond. Philadelphia’s window to win a championship is right now, and he’s confident in that occurring within a wide open Eastern Conference.
“Doc [Rivers] and the coaching staff and the players have put us in a spot where, as we make this trade, we are well-positioned to go on a run — and a run that hopefully excites the city of Philadelphia,” Morey said during Harden’s introductory press conference. “We wanted to give up nothing. But you have to give up something to make a trade and get a Hall-of-Famer and a player that can put us into a different tier of competing. We’re very comfortable.”