Philadelphia 76ers general manager Daryl Morey still can’t believe that his team was bounced from the second round of the NBA Playoffs by the Atlanta Hawks.
“I’m still stunned sitting here that we didn’t win Game 7 at home,” he said on Tuesday afternoon, less than 48 hours after they were defeated in the winner-take-all affair at Wells Fargo Center by the underdog Hawks.
“Frankly if we’re just squeaking by the second round, we are not good enough to win the title,” Morey admitted. “We have to get better. That series is still incredibly painful.”
And with it comes a major offseason of question marks for a majority of the roster as Morey tries to find the right pieces to fit a championship puzzle together.
“Ultimately you win or lose mostly with your players. So it’s my job to get the best players,” he said. “Frankly, we didn’t have quite good enough players.”
If that doesn’t put most of the roster on notice, nothing will.
“Again, I love how our young players are pushing our top players. I love the reaction that [head coach Doc Rivers] got in the locker room with everyone and the meetings he’s had today,” Morey said. “The reality is like, look, we need to be overall a better team with better players and we need improvement from the players that are here and we need better players brought in, and we’ll make that happen.”
Immediate speculation will — and already has — begin to swirl around the long-term viability of Ben Simmons, who once again had a series to forget as his offensive game continues to lag.
But Morey appears to be loyal to Simmons and the rest of Philadelphia’s Big 3 alongside Joel Embiid and Tobias Harris.
“I would say we have an extremely good trio,” he said. “You don’t get the No. 1 seed without having an extremely good top trio. We’re going to figure out how to make the team better. We gave ourselves a very good chance this year.
“Our chances to win the title peaked pretty high this year, and obviously, it’s a grave disappointment that we’re here and we have to take the next step.”
That grave disappointment has led to plenty of frustration around the league and for Sixers fans who are still patiently awaiting a first NBA title since 1983. But Morey maintains the notion that despite the need for a pseudo-roster-breakdown, the Sixers are still in a good spot.
“A lot of what I’m reading, I frankly don’t understand when people say the Sixers are in a bad a situation. I don’t choose to come here, Doc doesn’t choose to come here if this is a bad situation,” Morey said. “Really 25, 26 teams would love to be in our situation with an MVP top caliber player, an All-Star, a near All-Star, great young players who are signed for the long-term, good veterans. So we have a good foundation, we just have to do better. I have to do better, everyone has to do better. That’s the bottom line.
“That’s the challenge. I can tell to everyone in Philadelphia that there’s going to be a ton of effort up and down from myself, the front office, the coaching staff, and the players—who are being challenged as we speak in meetings with Doc Rivers on how they can get better as well.”