Philadelphia 76ers president Daryl Morey believes there are five to six teams capable of winning a championship this year. And the Sixers are one of those squads after making a sneaky good deadline deal for George Hill.
Hill brings a silky smooth outside stroke and tenacious defense, according to Morey, and the two-way guard filled one of the only needs on the roster. His 46% from three-point land led the entire NBA last year and he brings legitimate playoff experience. The Sixers got a lot better on Thursday.
“I think we feel very good about the roster we have,” Morey said, “and about our chances to win the championship. I think Doc [Rivers] had some comments recently about looking for a two-way guard and it was one of very few needs for us, and that’s what we got with George [Hill]. A veteran two-way guard who can shoot at a very high level, who can defend at a high level.”
Morey was non-committal on whether Hill would be inserted into the starting five, deferring those decisions to Rivers. Hill hasn’t played since Jan. 24 after undergoing a surgical procedure on his right thumb that was supposed to sideline him for four weeks. He still hasn’t returned to the court, but Morey assured everyone he’ll be back soon.
“I don’t want to give a timeline, it’s not long,” Morey said. “He had an issue where he chose to have surgery on it so that it’ll never be an issue again. Once he’s back, it’s something that will never bother him agin. So we’re very optimistic about him for the future.”
The Sixers traded for Hill with the expectation that the 34-year-old will be part of their long-term plans. He’s an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.
“We have the option to keep him, and not have him go to free agency,” Morey said. “We also kept all our assets moving forward. We felt good about this option and it really upgraded our team for the playoff wars to come.”
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Did Sixers Make Late Push for Kyle Lowry?
There were several reports saying the Sixers were one of two teams making a serious run at Kyle Lowry. It sounded like they were “all-in” on the Toronto Raptors star until about two hours before the 3 p.m. trade deadline. The sticking point was Matisse Thybulle.
Morey wouldn’t reveal how close Philly was to dealing for Lowry — remember, front-office executives aren’t allowed to comment on other team’s players — but the Sixers president did say he was happy with the “option we ended up with.” Hill is averaging 11.8 points per game this season.
“I can’t specifically address a player on another team,” Morey said of Lowry. “Obviously at the trade deadline you have lots of options that were out there. All I can say is we’re very excited about the option we ended up with. I think we did the deal about two hours before the deadline and we took an option that we thought really upgraded our team this year on both ends and at the same time kept all our optionality in the future.”
That “optionality” includes keeping Thybulle, as well as 2020 first-round pick Tyrese Maxey and 2020 second-round pick Paul Reed. The future is very bright in Philly.
“I think we upgraded ourselves a lot today and we’re going to be one of the top teams in the mix to win the title,” Morey said. “We felt good about this option and it really upgraded our team for the playoff wars to come.”
Looking Ahead to NBA Buyout Market
The Sixers might not be done making moves. LaMarcus Aldridge and Andre Drummond are two names to monitor on the buyout market, along with Otto Porter Jr. to a lesser degree. Morey didn’t rule out being active on that end and hinted that Rivers has a few names in mind.
“It’s early,” Morey said. “Some of the players you can’t get real feedback on because it’s the early days but I feel pretty good that someone who Coach Rivers thinks could help us will be available. But it is early to really give too much details on that. But we feel good about the buyout market right now.”
Meanwhile, former Sixers guard J.J. Redick is off the table after landing with the Dallas Mavericks while Lonzo Ball is staying with the New Orleans Pelicans. Other players will likely be hitting the waiver wire in the coming days.
“I think we’re pretty hard to beat,” Morey said. “I think Brooklyn is going to go into these playoffs the favorite but I think we’re right there.”