Philadelphia 76ers: Happy 49th Birthday, Daryl Morey!

(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

As crazy as it may sound, Daryl Morey has yet to hit the one-year mark of service with the Philadelphia 76ers.

What? That can’t be true, right? Morey has reshaped the Sixers’ rotation considerably since arriving in the City of Brotherly Love and has overseen two separate NBA Drafts and free agency periods. How have we not yet hit his one-year anniversary with the team?

Well, it’s true; Morey wasn’t technically brought on board until November 2nd, 2020, 16 days before the 2020 NBA Draft, and one month after Doc Rivers signed with the Sixers on October 3rd.

Why, you may ask, am I pointing this out? Well, because today, September 14th, is Morey’s 49th birthday.

So, to celebrate this momentous occasion, why not look back at his first season with the team and see how the Philadelphia 76ers got to where they are today?

Daryl Morey has made quite an impact on the Philadelphia 76ers.

It took Daryl Morey 16 days to make a move as the Philadelphia 76ers’ general manager, but when that levee broke, change flooded the City of Brotherly Love.

It all started on November 18th, the day of the draft. First, Morey traded Al Horford, Théo Maledon (as a draft pick), Vasilije Micić, and a 2025 1st round draft pick to the OKC Thunder for Danny Green, Terrance Ferguson, and Vincent Poirier. While that deal didn’t technically get completed until December 8th for technical reasons, and only one of those three players remain with the team 10 months later, the move was paramount in establishing the new direction Morey wanted to take his team.

With that albatross out of the way, Morey doubled down on his efforts to surround Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons with shooters and surrendered Josh Richardson and another second-round pick – eventually used on Tyler Bey – to the Dallas Mavericks for Seth Curry, in a deal that will go down in franchise history as one of their most lopsided trade wins.

So, with two of the biggest miscues of the Elton Brand-era officially off the books, Morey turned his attention to the draft, where he landed not one, not two, but three very impressive young players who should remain with the team for years to come in Tyrese Maxey, Isaiah Joe, and Paul Reed.

Factor in acquiring Tony Bradley from the Detroit Pistons for Zhaire Smith and, with less than a month on the job, I’d call that an A+ introduction.

From there, however, Morey’s tenure became rather contentious. Despite having expressed some not-so-secret interest in reacquiring his former superstar player, James Harden, from his spurned former employer, the Houston Rockets wouldn’t play ball, and the Sixers had to watch helplessly as their division rivals, the Brooklyn Nets, completed their Big 3 with yet another former league MVP.

From there, the Sixers plotted along as one of the best teams in the East, as Morey and company prepared for their next opportunity to further fortify Doc Rivers’ rotation with midseason reinforcements.

That came in the form of George Hill, who was acquired alongside Ignas Brazdeikis for Tony Bradley, Terrence Furgeson, and Vincent Poirier and four second-round picks and… well, no one else save Anthony Tolliver on a two-year vet minimum deal and Gary Clark on a two-way contract.

Morey once again got in on talks around the crown jewel of the trade market, Kyle Lowry, but the two sides were ultimately unable to agree on a deal that worked for everyone – including Lowry, who reportedly asked to stay in Toronto – and just like that, the Sixers had to enter the playoffs with a roster that could certainly do damage but lacked that over-the-top pop needed to really set themselves apart from the Eastern Conference pack.

Factor in a Joel Embiid meniscus tear, some poor scheming from Doc Rivers, and a passed-up dunk from Ben Simmons, and the Sixers found themselves bounced from the playoffs in the second round for the third time in four years.

A bummer? Undoubtedly, but Morey wasn’t dissuaded. After procuring three young, ascending players in the 2021 NBA Draft, he issued a vote of confidence in the team’s current core – even if it will all but surely be upended by a borderline inevitable Ben Simmons trade – and made moves in free agency to shore it up, extending Joel Embiid, Danny Green and Furkan Korkmaz while signing Andre Drummond and Georges Niang to free agency deals.

Did Morey once again miss out on the “bigger” deals, like sign-and-trading for Kyle Lowry and Lonzo Ball, or using the trade exception generated from trading Al Horford? Yes, yes, he did, but clearly, the Sixers are a team looking to maintain maximum flexibility as they approach a franchise-altering trade surrounding their second-best players.

I think we can give Morey a pass for that one… at least for today; it is his birthday, after all.

Next. Would Daryl Morey actually trade Jaden Springer?. dark

So, Daryl Morey, I hope 49 treats you well. Thanks for pulling off such a massive steal in trading for Seth Curry, believing enough in Tyrese Maxey to draft him 21st overall despite a lack of collegiate outside production, and for extending Joel Embiid to the full-on Supermax. May your evening be nice, and your returns in the Ben Simmons trade set the Philadelphia 76ers up for success for years to come.