Daryl Morey vows 'a lot of change' around Joel Embiid, Tyrese Maxey: Who will 76ers target this offseason?

Outside of its top stars, the only thing certain about the future of the Philadelphia 76ers roster is uncertainty.

Team president Daryl Morey hammered that point home Monday in his season-ending news conference following a first-round playoff loss to the New York Knicks. He vowed "'a lot of change" on the roster around All-Stars Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey. He also noted bench players Paul Reed and Ricky Council IV — who have non-guaranteed contracts — as players who are "going to be back next year."

Outside of those players and head coach Nick Nurse, Morey sounds ready for a dramatic overhaul in search of building a championship contender around Embiid and Maxey.

“We’re not going to have continuity,” Morey told reporters. “We’ll have continuity with our stars and our head coach but we’re going to have a lot of changes this season. ...

“We’re focused on Joel and Tyrese, and we’re focused on now.”

Morey's statements confirm what's been widely anticipated in Philadelphia — plans for a roster overhaul that leaves the status of starters and rotation players Tobias Harris, Kelly Oubre Jr., Kyle Lowry, Nicolas Batum and Buddy Hield in doubt. None of them are under contract beyond the season that just ended.

The pressure is on Daryl Morey this offseason to build a contender around Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey. (Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
The pressure is on Daryl Morey this offseason to build a contender around Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey. (Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

Embiid's approaching the second season of a four-year $213 million contract. Maxey will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of his four-year, $12 million rookie contract. The 76ers can match any competing offer and are expected to sign him to a max extension this summer following his breakout campaign that saw him earn his first All-Star bid and the NBA's Most Improved Player award.

That leaves the 76ers with plenty of flexibility to overhaul their roster. Per Spotrac, the 76ers project to have more than $55 million in available salary cap space this summer, the second-highest projection in the league behind the Detroit Pistons.

Outside of extending Maxey, how will they spend their money? Per The Athletic's Mike Vorkunov, Morey said that the team would prioritize a wing "who can play and deliver at a high level in the playoffs," a message that could reasonably be construed as targeting Harris.

Harris just concluded a five-year, $180 million contract he signed with the 76ers after arriving via midseason trade from the Clippers in 2019. He averaged nine points per game this postseason while shooting 43.1% from the field and 33.3% from 3-point distance. He went scoreless in Philadelphia's Game 6 elimination loss to the Knicks while attempting just two field goals.

Meanwhile, there's potential to secure a premium wing on the free-agent market this summer. Paul George has a player option on his contract with the Clippers and would be a free agent if he opts out.

Two-time All-Star Pascal Siakam previously played for Nurse in Toronto and is slated to become a free agent. But the Pacers acquired his Bird Rights when they traded for Siakam, which will allow them to exceed the salary cap with a long-term offer. He's widely expected to remain with the Pacers if they make such an offer.

Another former Raptor, OG Anunoby, has a player option for next season with the Knicks. If he opts out and doesn't reach terms with New York on an extension, would he consider jumping ship to join the division rival Sixers and his former coach?

Then there's LeBron James, the biggest wild card of the offseason. He too has a player option and has not committed to returning to the Los Angeles Lakers. It seems a long shot for the 76ers, but they're looking to make a big splash. This would qualify.

Whatever decisions the 76ers make this summer, the pressure is on. Embiid's 30 and won't be in his prime forever. Maxey's approaching his and showed in the postseason he's ready for his star turn on a contender. The window for Philadelphia is now, and it's up to Morey this offseason to maximize it.