Daryl Morey was hired by the Philadelphia 76ers in November 2020 to take over the front-office executive role from Elton Brand. After Bryan Colangelo resigned from his front office position in 2018 due to an investigation finding he used Twitter burner accounts to criticize his players, it was then head coach Brett Brown and Elton Brand who assumed control.
Brown was eventually fired as head coach and Brand had no experience running an NBA front office before assuming the position. The Sixers’ ownership decided to go and get an experienced executive in Morey who had just stepped down from his role with the Houston Rockets in October 2020.
Years prior, Morey became a household name due to the rise of the Rockets with James Harden running the show. The analytically forward-thinking culture transformed the NBA into viewing three-point shooting as the most valuable aspect of the game.
The ascension of Harden and Morey in Houston made them inseparable.
It seemed like only a matter of time before the two would reconnect in Philadelphia with Harden seeming to be more and more unhappy with the Brooklyn Nets after. The reunion eventually came in 2022 when the Sixers acquired the superstar guard at the trade deadline in a blockbuster trade that move Ben Simmons out of Philly. This was viewed as the final piece necessary to get the organization past the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 2001.
It didn’t come that season. They were once again eliminated in the Eastern Conference Semifinals and went into the season scratching their heads about how to get past that specific roadblock. Harden decided to take a roughly $14 million pay cut heading into the 2022-23 season to help sign free agents with a focus on winning an NBA title.
After yet another flameout in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, the 76ers vs. James Harden saga officially began this offseason with the explosive ending of him saying “Daryl Morey is a liar and I will never be a part of an organization that he’s a part of.”
This was caught on video as he was speaking to a crowd in China and was sent out on social media by NBA insider Shams Charania. Originally, it was thought that the pay cut the previous year was going to result in a long-term contract extension for Harden from Morey. Harden took care of the team so Morey was going to take care of him.
However, at the end of the season, it became clear the Sixers had no intention of giving him a long-term contract after he put together inconsistent performances all playoffs long. Like Harry Czerny told Tom Cruise in the new Mission Impossible movie, “You need to pick a side.”
Morey picked the side of the Sixers franchise over Harden.
It’s the smart thing to do from a business perspective. How many times can he tie his legacy to Harden who continues to come up small in the biggest moments? If Morey did give Harden that massive contract extension and it failed, he would never have gotten another job in an NBA front office again. So, he picked his side. The Philadelphia 76ers.
As always, there are consequences to choices and now Morey is dealing with a disgruntled star who is hellbent on making life difficult for the Sixers. The best course of action is to get Harden out of town and out of town fast. If Morey wants to show that he’s continuing to put the Sixers first, he’ll cut the link between him and Harden completely.