Camden, N.J. - Daryl Morey looked across the rows of reporters at the Sixers' practice facility on Monday and made one thing extremely clear - significant changes are coming.

That's a card you usually pull after an embarrassing, high-profile failure. Not necessarily after an incredibly promising start to your season was derailed by a star player missing 30 games with a knee injury, culminating in disadvantageous playoff positioning and a first-round exit in which the scoring margin for the series was one single point.

The Sixers president of basketball operations was willing to take responsibility for how the season played out. But, for Morey, that isn't exactly a promise to change his philosophies.

"I feel like I could've done a better job with the players so that we were in a better spot to win without [Joel Embiid]. That said, we do spend 90 percent of the time figuring out how to win the title with him. It can't be a big focus how we play without him. We know that team can't win a championship. It's really just how do we manage through it better," Morey told reporters.

"I felt like, on me, the depth wasn't quite there when he was out to win at the level we wanted to win at. I do think it was good for Tyrese [Maxey] and his development that he had to carry a huge burden during that period. But, we spend most of our time on how to win when Joel is here. I think that's the right thing. But, we'd like to do better in those situations, as well."

Even though Morey put it on himself that the team's depth wasn't good enough to weather the storm during Embiid's absence, he would argue with the notion that depth wins championships.

He cited counter-examples to the notion - most recently posed by Embiid, himself, in fact - that continuity wins championships. Morey named different teams that won it all in three consecutive years to debunk the idea that continuity wins, pointing to the 2019 Toronto Raptors, 2020 Los Angeles Lakers, and 2021 Milwaukee Bucks.

"We're not going to have continuity. We hopefully will have continuity going forward a little better. We'll have continuity with our stars and our head coach," Morey said.

"But, we're going to have a lot of change this offseason."

That's a card Morey can pull because, for the first time in his tenure in Philadelphia, his slate is almost entirely clean.

For a guy who is usually guarded about what he says on the record, Morey was relatively open. From his feelings about certain incumbent players to roster needs going forward, all the way down to position and impact.

"The biggest need is not at [Embiid and Maxey's] positions. Someone at the wing, who can play and deliver at a high level in the playoffs," Morey said.

As most of the league sits idly while eight teams battle, the early offseason chatter has linked Philadelphia to aging stars like Jimmy Butler and Paul George.

Morey claims he doesn't take the risk that comes with featuring players in their mid-30s lightly. That risk doesn't appear to sway him either, though.

"Obviously, you have to factor in age. But, we feel like we're in the window where we have to win now. We're mostly focused on getting the best players that fit with Joel and Tyrese. [...] The reality is you need very good players, you need better players than your opponents, and there isn't really a formula," Morey said.

"As long as players are playing at a high level, we're focused on Joel and Tyrese, and we're focused on 'now'. You have to factor in age because I have to look at more than just one season. But, the reality is similar to we put most of our focus on the team when Joel is available, we put most of our focus on the now versus the future with where Joel is in his prime."

The urgency to win right now grows with each passing season, each passing night, and each passing step Embiid takes on the basketball court.

Morey isn't focused on the draft for present-day help, although he disagrees with the notion that 2024 is a weak class. In fact, he's "excited" about the projected options when it comes time to make the 16th selection in the 2024 draft. Of course, those options include trading into the future to maintain draft capital for eventual moves or back in the current draft to add another player.

Morey likes to have a pool of young players, his headlined by big man Paul Reed and the toolsy Ricky Council IV. But, he admitted that the Sixers will be a veteran-heavy team in the aftermath of this offseason's significant change.

"Except for Nick Nurse, Joel and Tyrese, and Paul and Ricky, we don't know for sure who's going to be back next year," the president of basketball operations said.

"We have interest in pretty much all of our free agents. It's just, we're definitely not getting them all back. It's just the reality of the league. Kelly [Oubre Jr.] was one that was just such a breath of fresh air, played so hard. Won over this city, which isn't easy. Gave us really, really key minutes in the regular season and the playoffs. He's definitely someone that we have interest in."

Morey admitted that he miscalculated Buddy Hield's fit, explaining that there weren't as many open shots following Embiid's return as he had envisioned. He didn't rule out the possibility of that fit working in the future, depending on who else is around Embiid and Maxey. That is, of course, to say he wouldn't categorically close the door on Hield returning to Philadelphia. But, Morey was certainly able to appreciate the additions of Kyle Lowry and Cameron Payne much more.

Whether it's retaining parts from the old crew or adding new pieces, Morey is concerned with solidifying the team's base and supporting it with the right fits.

"Generally, the history of the NBA would favor, even with the new CBA, get studs who then you can put the work and the onus on the front office to find the players that fit around it," he explained.

"We definitely look at fit. [...] We're not really focused necessarily on the exact bucket, whether it's 'max' or 'role player' or whatever. We're focused on getting the best players within the CBA constraints, which is basically like 'you only get so many, you only have so much money'. Generally, historically, having top players works better."

In Morey's mind, you can forget formulas and patterns. The strategy is the Sixers having better players than any of their plausible opponents do. Morey's front office will not go into the summer with a prescription or a proscription of how to go about accomplishing that.

They won't look at their options through the lens of "does this help?", either.

"It's really not 'does this player help?'. It's 'does this player help within the context of the CBA and, at whatever number they're at, what constraints that creates for other positions you might want to help'," Morey said.

No matter what, Morey knows his front office cannot afford to panic. They know they cannot let one closed road lead them down the wrong path altogether.

"I think that's basically by keeping just very focused on what gives us the best chance to win and which things move the needle and which ones don't. I think there is a chance that all the balls go up and they all land. Then, everyone will be mad, and that's fine.

But, what we definitely can't do in that situation is actually hurt ourselves, to make sure we can still build a contender. The main mistake that could be made that we won't make is if some of the better options don't go our way - trade into our cap space, free agents, turn our draft picks into things.

If all those things don't yield what we want, we are definitely not going to just sign for a lot of money some player who's just an OK player. That's not happening because that will be where we can't continue to build a contender around Joel and Tyrese," Morey explained.

"So, in those scenarios, we'll be doing shorter deals and then using our draft picks to set ourselves up for trade or set ourselves up for the next opportunity when it comes. We want to open all the doors to make ourselves a contender, but we can't close all the future doors unless we think the move we are doing can be the best team in the East, at least."

Perhaps those downside scenarios merely kick the can down the road. Morey would rather do that than build a team whose ceiling is only the second or third highest in the East.

Whether you agree with him or not, Morey wants to go into the playoffs with the best of his product still feasibly ahead.

"It's never about 'can this win?'. It's 'what is the best chance to win?'. [...] I'll take the better team that you have to manage your way into the playoffs than the worse team that's always available. I'll take that 10 out of 10," Morey said, exuding conviction in that belief.

"I owe it to the fans, to ownership, to everybody to get this team in a place where we're competing for championships and we obviously didn't achieve that this year. But, we're very well situated to use all the tools - trade, free agency, draft - to upgrade the team and we're going to put every single effort into that."

The canvas is as blank as it'll ever be, and that means the pressure is on Morey to deliver.

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