NBA executives and scouts seem to like the work that Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey did in his first offseason with the team.
ESPN’s Tim Bontemps surveyed eight scouts and executives ahead of the 2020-21 NBA regular season. The Sixers received one vote for the best offseason and two votes for winning the Eastern Conference. One Eastern Conference executive even picked the team to win the NBA Finals.
"If they're healthy, they have the talent, and (head coach Doc Rivers) has dealt with players like Ben (Simmons) and Joel (Embiid) successfully in the past," the executive said. "I think they'll have greater confidence in him than the previous coach, and in their staff in general. You've got a pretty solid group there."
If you haven’t been following all of the Sixers’ offseason changes closely, the team’s main on-court additions are Seth Curry, Danny Green, Dwight Howard and 21st pick Tyrese Maxey. Among the notable departures are Josh Richardson and Al Horford.
The Bucks got five votes for winning the East after trading for Jrue Holiday this offseason, and one Eastern Conference scout picked Kyrie Irving, a healthy Kevin Durant and the Nets.
The Sixers also factor into ESPN’s survey on the question of where James Harden will be playing after the trade deadline. The Rockets received six votes, the Sixers and Brooklyn one apiece.
That the majority of executives surveyed think Harden will still be in Houston past the trade deadline is interesting, especially in light of how frequently new developments about Harden’s preferences and the Rockets’ negotiations have been reported. Harden is under contract for two more years and has a player option in 2022-23. If the Sixers remain unwilling to trade Ben Simmons, as multiple reports indicate has been the case thus far, then there’s no clear, swift resolution in sight.
"Who f---ing knows, man," an Eastern Conference executive told ESPN. "I don't think he gets traded unless other teams get involved and there becomes a bidding war of sorts. Otherwise I think they just hold pat. They're not going to trade him for crap."