Daryl Morey is one of the more well-respected team-builders in the NBA today, and understandably so. After all, Morey has constructed several solid teams over the course of his career.

Morey's Houston Rockets, built around offensive dynamo James Harden, were an annual contender. They made it to the Western Conference Finals in 2015 and then again in 2018, pushing the eventual-champion Warriors to seven games in the series the second time around.

In 2023, Morey's Philadelphia 76ers -- with NBA MVP Joel Embiid and Harden -- looked like a team that could make a legitimate championship run, but they were ultimately bested in seven games in the Eastern Conference semifinals by the Boston Celtics. So, while Morey has consistently built very good teams, he has yet to construct a *great* one, or paint his masterpiece, if you will.

Morey's blank canvas

This summer though, Morey will have as close as you can get to a blank canvas in NBA roster-building terms. Rising star Tyrese Maxey is in line for an enormous extension, and deservedly so, and Embiid is still under contract. Otherwise the Sixers have no guaranteed money on the books for next season. Paul Reed's contract for the next two seasons would have been fully guaranteed if the Sixers advanced past the first round this past season, but alas, they didn't.

Morey will now have a ton of salary cap space to work with over the offseason, which was the obvious goal dating all the way back to last summer. The Sixers only signed free agents to one-year deals, and they didn't take back any extended contracts in trades, all so that they could have a mountain of cap space to utilize this summer -- which they do.

That part of the plan worked. Now comes the harder part -- and the part that has alluded Morey throughout his career to this point -- using that cap space to build a championship-level roster. Philadelphia's president of basketball operations might never have a better chance to do just that than he does this summer.

So, what will Morey do to construct a contender around Embiid and Maxey? He has no shortage of options, as the Sixers have already been linked to the likes of Paul George, LeBron James, OG Anunoby, Jimmy Butler, Donovan Mitchell and others this offseason. Plus, the organization could be interested in bringing back some of its own free agents such as Kelly Oubre Jr., Nic Batum and De'Anthony Melton. Tobias Harris, on the other hand, is as good as gone.

The one certainty regarding the Sixers offseason is that there will be change, and lots of it.

“We’re not going to have continuity,” Morey said at his season-ending press conference earlier this month. “We’ll have continuity with our stars and our head coach but we’re going to have a lot of changes this season.”

With a star point guard and center already in place, Morey plans to prioritize the perimeter this offseason. "Someone at the wing who can play and deliver in the playoffs," he responded when asked what kind of players the Sixers might target.

This should sound like music to the ears of fans of the Sixers, who have lacked an elite perimeter player for Embiid's entire tenure with the team, except for the half-season when Jimmy Butler was on the roster. A top-tier wing would round out Philadelphia's starting unit nicely moving forward.

The clock is ticking

The clock is ticking on the Embiid era in Philadelphia. It will be 10 years this summer that the Sixers selected Embiid with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2014 draft, and they still haven't advanced past the second round since 2001.

Embiid is now 30 years old with a lot of wear-and-tear on his body and a lengthy injury history. The window to win a title with the former MVP won't stay open forever. The pressure is on Philadelphia's front office to maximize his remaining years. That isn't lost on Morey.

“This offseason’s a big one,” Morey said earlier this month. “I owe it to the fans, to ownership, to everybody, to get this team in a place where we’re competing for championships."

The canvas in front of Morey is blank. Let's see where his brush takes him.


Follow Michael Kaskey-Blomain on X @therealmikekb.



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