The Philadelphia 76ers were missing something last season. It had little to do with numbers on a box score or stat sheet. Even less to do with individual honors and awards. But had everything to do with mentality.
The Sixers needed someone to come set the tone. Someone with swagger and experience and leadership. The Sixers needed, as Joel Embiid put it, an “enforcer.”
So GM Daryl Morey set out to find that “enforcer” type player. And it didn’t take long for the Sixers to ink former Heat and Bucks forward PJ Tucker to a two-year deal. Tucker plays with a defensive tenacity and toughness that the Sixers have lacked for years. But Morey wasn’t done there.
In early September, the Sixers signed free agent Montrezl Harrell. The former Sixth Man of the Year will play key backup minutes behind superstar center Joel Embiid this season. And while Harrell is entering his seventh season in the league, a prolonged career in professional basketball wasn’t always a guarantee.
The Sixers big man took to Twitter to discuss his journey to the NBA, quote tweeting a fan that praised Harrell for overcoming obstacles along the way.
“An still doing it to this day, but I don’t get they haven’t realized push my back to the wall I come out stronger,” Harrell tweeted.
Not only has Harrell won a Sixth Man of the Year award, but he’s played for several successful teams, including the Los Angeles Clippers and Houston Rockets. The latter of those he actually suited up with James Harden, while in LA he played under current Sixers coach Doc Rivers.
And the Sixers’ GM recently sat down to describe how Harrell’s past should make him a great fit in Philadelphia.
Morey Sounds Off On Rockets and Clippers Additions
On September 13, Morey sat down with NBC Sports Philadelphia’s John Clark on his podcast The Take Off with John Clark. And the Sixers’ GM was candid about a recurring theme over this summer.
“Look, we’ve added a lot of people who’ve worked both with Doc and myself in the past,” Morey said. “[Harrell], everyone likes to make fun of the fact that we have a lot of former Rockets, but [Harrell] had his best years under Doc — Sixth Man of the Year (in 2019-20) — and he really flourished after that Chris Paul trade that brought him to the Clippers and working with (assistant coach) Sam Cassel.”
Working with people one has familiarity with should only help boost the team’s chemistry heading into training camp. And that chemistry will be vital, especially after the Sixers added four new players to the team in the offseason: Tucker, Harrell, De’Anthony Melton, and Danuel House.
Morey Opens Up About How the Sixers Target Players
Morey also talked to Clark about how the Sixers go about identifying players that could fit in Philadelphia’s system. And unsurprisingly, it’s rarely a one-size-fits-all kind of exercise.
“It’s never like a one-to-one thing. It’s really like, here’s the array of opportunities. I try to go in without a specific thing like, ‘We have to have X.’ And in fact, the Montrezl Harrell signing was one we didn’t think would maybe happen. So we were comfortable going in with what we had. We thought that if there was an issue, we could address it during the season. … I would guess it’d come more in February or so. So you look at all the opportunities,” Morey explained.
Morey is no stranger to the trade deadline deal. Last season, he pulled off a blockbuster by trading Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, and Andre Drummond to the Brooklyn Nets in exchange for James Harden and Paul Millsap.
And there’s little question Morey has been scouring the market for any additional deals. Since the Sixers have 17 players under contract, they’ll need to either trade a few or make difficult cut/waiver decisions to get under the league maximum of 15 during the regular season.