There were rumors of it all season. it feels like anyone time there was any big Sixers game Adrian Wojnarowski would put out the story that James Harden was serious about returning to Houston this offseason. And then the Sixers lost to the Celtics in the playoffs. Harden opted out of his Sixers contract a couple of days later. Keith Pompey reported today that James Harden is planning on reuniting with the Rockets once Free Agency begins.

[Source: Keith Pompey]

News that will be a relief for some Sixers fans. James Harden came up incredibly small in the playoffs once again this year. Yes, he had games 1 and 4 where he won it nearly by himself. But in games 2, 3, 6, and 7 he was one of the main reasons they lost. It has been a reoccurring problem for him. He struggled last season vs the Heat too in the 2nd round. While he had the injured hamstring excuse in that series, there is no such excuse this time.

What is next? Well, we will have to see if Harden just signs there, or if the two sides work out a sign-and-trade. If he walks, the Sixers are left with little cap space, and James Harden gets less money than he could get in a sign-and-trade. So it would make sense for both Sixers and Harden to work something out. How much they would get back? That is another question. It is hard to negotiate a good deal when you only have one team to talk to. But something is better than nothing.

The Sixers will need to find a starting PG in his place. And they will need a 2nd star to play Superman to Joel Embiid’s Batman. Ideally someone with a history of playing well in the playoffs. With very little to use as trade bait and minimal cap space, it is not clear how the Sixers will pull that off. But at least for now, it does not seem they will have to commit 4-years of max money to James Harden. We will find out if that is for the best going forward.

6 Biggest Takeaways From The Daryl Morey Press Conference

Things did not go well for the Sixers in this Post-Season. once again, they got booted in the 2nd round. But this time may be the worst of the 5 2nd round exits they had. Not only did they blow a 3-2 lead. But they lost game 6 and home and then got blown out in Boston to end their season. Following the loss, Doc Rivers lost his job. The Sixers announced that decision two days after the game 7 loss. And to discuss that decision, Daryl Morey spoke to the media today.

The pressure is now on Daryl Morey. Doc Rivers was not his hire. But this next coach will be. And if the team fails again, the spotlight might move from the coach to Daryl Morey. He never could quite get it done in Houston, despite a lot of regular season success. And it has been the same story here in Philadelphia. He brought in his guy James Harden. He got to mold the roster to his vision, and that roster came up short again. If it happened again, it would be his roster, his coach, who could not get the job done. That would fall on him.

So what did Morey have to say today? What are they looking for in a head coach? Will they look to bring James Harden back? How much work does Daryl Morey think they have to do to fix these issues? He was asked about all of that. Some he answered. Others in typical front office fashion, he dodged. But there were some interesting takeaways from the press conference.

Here are the 6 Biggest takeaways from the Daryl Morey Press Conference:

  • Joel Embiid Was Not Happy About Doc Rivers Being Fired

    Stephen A Smith reported that Joel Embiid was not happy that Doc Rivers lost his job. And Daryl Morey confirmed that in his press conference. He noted that Embiid was very close with Doc Rivers, and was shocked and disappointed by the trade. He also noted that Embiid was upset by a certain player being traded, though he did not say who that was specifically. Hopefully, Embiid will take that as blaming himself for someone he likes losing their job, and pick up his play when it matters.

  • Championship Pedigree A Factor, Not a Litmus Test for Next Coach

    Daryl Morey was asked how much having experience winning as a head coach will factor into who he hires. Morey stopped short of outright saying the next coach has to have that experience. But it certainly seemed to be important. He said having a guy who won before, can lend a coach credibility. Morey compared it to bringing in PJ Tucker last year, and that being able to tell guys you have won it before has a lot of value in the locker room. So don’t be surprised if whoever Morey hires is someone who already has a ring on their hand. Frank Vogel, Mike Budenholzer, and Nick Nurse all fit that criteria.

  • Wants Harden Back, But Prepared If He Leaves

    Morey could not get into his actual plans without violating tampering rules, but he was asked about James Harden several times. Harden opted out, with the news breaking during his press conference. Morey said they would like to have Harden back, and will make that a priority, but thinks the team can stay competitive if he does leave. Morey pointed to the fact they have an MVP on the roster, which is a jump over most rosters to start

  • Don't Expect a Quick Hire

    Morey also noted that they will not rush this process (and apologized for using the word process). Morey said they will take a careful approach with the next hire. There are a lot of candidates, and they want to look at all of them before rushing into a hire. Morey noted it should be a popular job opening given the fact the roster has Joel Embiid on it. So it may be a while before we hear who is replacing Doc Rivers.

  • Players Wont Have Imput In The Next Head Coach

    Morey is not going to be running candidates by Joel Embiid or any other Sixers players on the roster. He did say he will be looking for a coach who fits what they already have. But also said that the players will not be consulted on who they want to be the coach. So while he may look for a coach who has experience with teams where the big man is a Star, he won’t run that choice by Joel Embiid himself.

  • Embiid Did Take Accountability To Front Office

    Morey said he had discussions with a lot of the players since the game 7 loss happened. He said they all took accountability for what they did wrong. he also noted that Embbid specifically wanted to work on ways to improve his performance in the playoffs. And Morey said that he does not think it is necessarily fair to judge players by what they say directly after a loss like that when they have a mic in their face.