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CAMDEN, N.J. — Philadelphia 76ers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey mentioned coach Doc Rivers will return subsequent season for a 3rd yr with the franchise.

“I simply assume he is an awesome coach,” Morey mentioned throughout Friday’s exit interviews after the Sixers had been eradicated the earlier night time on their dwelling court docket by the Miami Warmth within the Jap Convention semifinals. “I like working with him. I really feel like I am studying from him. I believe [general manager] Elton [Brand] and I and him make an awesome group, and we’re gonna see the place this journey takes us.

“However we really feel superb about the place it is gonna take us, and it is gonna be the place we now have an excellent likelihood to win the title.”

That has been the purpose every of the previous two seasons in Philadelphia, since Morey arrived from the Houston Rockets and Rivers from the LA Clippers: to take this group to degree it hasn’t reached in a era. The 76ers have not made it previous the second spherical of the playoffs — the place they’ve now misplaced 4 occasions in 5 years — since reaching the NBA Finals in 2001.

The 76ers have not received an NBA championship since 1983.

Morey reiterated that purpose when he traded Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, Andre Drummond and two first-round draft picks for James Harden on this season’s blockbuster deal on the commerce deadline.

On Friday, Morey repeatedly mentioned the 76ers are wanting ahead to spending the offseason discovering methods to “unlock” Harden, who was underwhelming within the playoffs (18.6 factors, 8.6 assists), and to wash up the match alongside famous person heart Joel Embiid.

When requested a number of occasions instantly if that meant Harden has extra ranges to achieve or if followers ought to come to decrease their expectations for the previous NBA MVP transferring ahead, Morey artfully danced across the query with out answering it.

As a substitute, Morey mentioned he’s wanting ahead to Rivers and his employees discovering methods to make use of Harden.

“Look. He is an extremely gifted participant,” Morey mentioned. “Similar to Joel, similar to Tobias [Harris]. And I am excited for Doc and his employees to have an entire offseason to work with the gamers and give you one of the best plan for the roster we’ll have. … Having all of it come collectively in February makes it very troublesome to attempt to work out … ‘unlock’ all of the completely different expertise of the gamers and the way they’ll work collectively.

“Everyone knows he is a really expert participant, and we’ll work out use him.”

Morey additionally adopted up on Harden’s declaration that, as he weighs what to do along with his participant choice this summer time, he can be again in Philadelphia subsequent season.

“That is the plan, is to have him again,” Morey mentioned. “That is been the plan because the commerce. Clearly, we now have to work along with his illustration and that’ll be between us to determine how that works.”

Total, although, it was a melancholy temper — as one would anticipate for a group that bounced out of the playoffs within the method that it did, with two straight ugly losses to the Warmth.

“Effectively, we’re sick,” Morey mentioned. “We’re right here as a result of we now have large aspirations. I do know our followers do as properly. … That is why we’re right here. That is why we do that. So it is powerful to be right here proper now. Nonetheless emotional.

“[But] look, we’re enthusiastic about what we are able to construct from right here. We predict a variety of issues that we are able to enhance on and that is myself, that is on [Brand], that is on Coach Rivers. We’ll determine this out. However we really feel like there’s quite a bit to construct on.”

Whereas Philadelphia has a robust basis to construct upon, merely because of Embiid’s presence, there nonetheless is loads of work to be achieved. Miami star Jimmy Butler was capable of get what he wished towards the 76ers defensively on this sequence, and perimeter protection was a relentless downside all season. Depth additionally was a difficulty.

Morey mentioned protection was going to be a spotlight, whereas Rivers echoed Embiid’s statements that the group wants extra toughness transferring ahead.

“Effectively, I believe it is one thing that our gamers can develop,” Morey mentioned a few lack of psychological toughness being a typical theme in exit interviews with gamers. “I imply, going by way of losses and the way you reply to that and the way you are taking it as your personal look within the mirror. I believe all of us must look within the mirror and say, ‘How can we every be higher?’ … And that goes for myself as properly.”

Finally, although, what the 76ers have achieved the previous two seasons isn’t any higher than what they did the prior three when it comes to how far they’ve managed to advance within the postseason. However advancing within the playoffs isn’t any straightforward feat, Rivers mentioned, and requires a studying curve from up and down a company to take action.

“As a result of successful is difficult,” Rivers mentioned. “You simply do not present up and also you simply say, ‘OK, guys. We’re transferring on.’ It is arduous. We’re not the one group. It is arduous to maneuver on. We had a possibility final yr, did not get it achieved. This yr was powerful. I imply, clearly, with all of the accidents and stuff, so the solutions are straightforward. It is arduous. We’re proper there. We put ourselves within the argument. And that is all you are able to do. And then you definitely come again and maintain working at it till you recover from the mountain.

“Milwaukee, you have a look at them, it took two or three years to recover from the mountain. That is simply the best way it really works. It is not assured to anyone.”

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