Sixers’ Daryl Morey discusses James Harden’s health and PJ Tucker’s contract

The 10th anniversary of Daryl Morey’s first trade for James Harden is approaching.

The two have gotten to know each other so well over the past decade, yet the Sixers’ Chief of Basketball Operations didn’t expect Harden press conference after losing to the Heat at the end of the season In May to play just like you did.

When asked if he’s 100 percent healthy with the Sixers, Harden said, “I’ve been going there, man. Honestly, it’s been two long years for me. I’m finally starting to feel good again. It’s going to be a great summer for me to get in.” Get on my body properly and get ready to go for next year. These past two years have been a hiccup.”

After dealing with the Sixers in February, Harden initially focused on rehabilitating his injured left hamstring. He then made his debut on February 25 and played 21 of 24 potential regular season games, averaging 37.7 minutes. He appeared in each of the team’s 12 post-season competitions, feeling under 40 minutes per game.

“I’d say with James – again, more than any player I’ve worked with – he didn’t say anything wrong,” Morey said on The Takeoff with the John Clark podcast. “He actually surprised me when he said what he said after the season. For him to say that meant there were more problems than… Look, he spat on it, stand on the floor, whatever cost you can do, go out there and win. He was one of the most enduring players in NBA history before his hamstring problem.I know he worked hard to get to a great place; he’s in a great place now.

“But during our run last year, he would never say, ‘I’m not 100 percent,’ because he never wants to make any excuses, especially during the middle of a playoff. He also never wants to tell his teammates or the other team that there’s a problem.”

“Honestly, throughout my career, we’ve tried to get James to be more open about, ‘Hey, that hurts’ or whatever, just to protect him. For example, in my years with him (in Houston), he would twist his ankles sending players off. For weeks and he just plays on the spot, then he plays the next night in a back-to-back game. He was great. Maybe he’s more brave than we needed at times, but you respect that that’s his mentality.”

In Morey’s interview with Clark, he also praised Harden for recruiting him New Montrezel Harrell signature. He stressed the importance of Harden’s decision Signing a two-year contract worth $68.6 million this summer. The 33-year-old declined the player’s $47.4 million option.

“James, he’s a little bit later in his career than Joel (Embiide), so I would say as you progress in your career you realize that every precious year, every season is more precious. He has done, I think, more than any star player has ever done to take less money. So much. We just got Montrezl Harrell. We wouldn’t have done it without both of them taking less money and constantly talking to Trez and saying, “Hey, let’s revive the magic we had in the past.”

“Look, between the money he gave up and his commitment to the franchise from day one to doing what he (head coach Doc Rivers) wanted… I’m someone who looks at the data a little bit. All the players in the team’s payout percentages went away from the passes from him. Our squad has been upgraded dramatically. A year after he arrived. Joel and James were our first pick-and-roll players – really (in) years; it wasn’t just last season. It just shows the overall impact and how he lifts the whole team up to help us win the title.”

The gist of Morey’s view of the Harden effect is already backed by the numbers. One strong example is Tyrese Maxey, who He shot 61.1 per cent with two shots and 55.6 per cent after three passes from Harden and enjoy Discover the many benefits of 10-time All-Star Point Guard skills.

With Harden-Embiid formations, the Sixers have a net plus rating of 15.8 (99th percentile), in glass cleaning.

It would be reasonable to view and assume Morey’s off-season work He listened intently to what his stars wanted. However, Morey described Harden’s reunion with former Harrell Rockets, PJ Tucker and Danielle House Jr. as more accurate than simply catering to his best players.

“…Look, we’ve added a lot of people who have worked with Doc and myself in the past,” Morey said. “Trez, everyone likes to make fun of the fact that we have so many ex-Rockets, but Trez has had his best years under Doc – sixth man of the year (in 2019-20) – and he really thrived after the Chris Paul trade that brought him to the Clippers and work with (Assistant Coach) Sam Cassel….It’s never like a one-to-one thing. It’s really like, here’s the set of chances. I try to get in without something specific like, “We should get an X.” And in fact, Montreal’s signature Harrell was one that didn’t We think it’s going to happen. So we were comfortable going in with what we had. We thought if there was an issue we could address it during the season. … I think it would happen more in February or so. So you look at all the opportunities.

“I have discussions with our front office, with Coach Rivers, with ownership, and yes, also with our top players. When the top players get involved and they see the range of options, and then they get to know why we make the decisions that we make, they feel more invested; they feel they are part of a whole thing. It’s just a clever way of getting everyone in the boat together. And so when they see all those options, yeah, there might be, like, ‘Hey, I can have a picking partner.’ Montrezel Harrell can do that. Or we looked at other players who might have been better at floor spacing. “Well, if I don’t have a Plug and Play service partner, I can use a spacer that might open me lanes.” So it’s more than just specific players.

“It just so happens that we have James now. There are some guys out there who work really well with James, so it’s only natural that you’re going to find the right one. Similar to Joel. I just finished playing the series (against) PJ Tucker. PJ was really capable of Impacting that streak in many ways through his strength, with his high-level defense, and his energy on the ground, with his offensive rebound. And Joel correctly said, “Hey, we can use a guy like that.”

But at no point did Joel Embiid say, ‘We should have a PJ Tucker.’ He just happened to be available. If he wasn’t a free agent, we’d have to move in a different direction. It might have been a very different direction than P.J. Tucker; it might have been. A different profile. Again, I think if you go in like, ‘We’ve got to get an X’, that’s where you overpay. This is where you put the limits on your ability to improve the team later.”

“Overpaying” could end up being a common sign of Tucker’s contract if the 37-year-old fell physically or had bad luck in Philadelphia.

Sixers used Tucker’s standard mid-level exception, He signed a three-year contract worth $33.2 million. In Morey’s view, recent evidence that Tucker could still be highly valuable to rival teams was more important than guessing how Tucker would age.

“BJ Tucker, if you look at players similar to him, should have been out of the league four years ago,” Morey said. “Almost nobody plays the kind of game he’s still playing at the age of 37. So we’re really in that space that nobody knows. We’re obviously trying to win now. I’m not worried about 40. I think I would never bet against PJ Tucker. Anyone who bets against him is wrong and keeps winning. So I don’t know what it’s going to be at 40. PJ, he knows he’s going to be great at 40; I know he thinks so. I think everyone else doesn’t, but we feel good.

“Even if his body might be betraying him a bit moving forward, I still knew he would bring the energy and he would be an incredible man to be on the list. All that said, he is already in this place where no one knows the next steps. Normally, you can look at the players who They play like him at age 32, how would they look at 34? You can look at those things. There are 100 or 200 players like that. There is an actual data set of one person that looks like PJ Tucker who is still helping teams win championships at age 36 and 37. All of them They’re almost all-time ex-All-Stars – to get to that age. And frankly, PJ Tucker is an All-Star in his role. Maybe in 50 years guys like him have become All-Stars because people realize the contribution they make.”

Whether or not he has risen to All-Star status this season, the 16-year-old younger than Tucker is clearly an integral part of the Sixers.

Morey admitted that The Sixers rely on 21-year-old Maxi for rapid development.

“It’s key to our season,” Morey said. “Obviously the new players on the team I think are two-way players and will set the stage, but winning the title is really up to your best players. And maybe the main things are that we need Joel to give us again a top player level performance; we need James to be the same. Only – we don’t even need James five years ago, we need the guy we saw last year in most games; but the biggest inflection point is probably that we need Maxi to take another step forward.

“And he can do it. He puts the work into it. Look, it’s really hard. His freshman year was way ahead of schedule. His sophomore year was way ahead of schedule. And to ask him to make another leap forward takes a lot, but we need him. But I won’t I’d be surprised if he did that given the time he spent.”

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