Gators in NBA: 76ers ship Horford to Oklahoma City
PHILADELPHIA — The first draft night for the Philadelphia 76ers under new president Daryl Morey led to a major shakeup for an organization chasing its first NBA title since 1983.
Morey undid last summer’s major moves when he traded Al Horford (University of Florida to Oklahoma City and Josh Richardson to the Dallas Mavericks, shedding salary and beefing up the Sixers’ shooting.
Philadelphia also selected Kentucky guard Tyrese Maxey with the 21st pick Wednesday, its first draft choice under the new regime of Morey and coach Doc Rivers.
Rivers had quite the scouting report on the Dallas trade. The Sixers, who also sent the 36th pick of the draft to the Mavericks, acquired guard Seth Curry — Rivers’ son-in-law.
Family counts for something, yes. But no doubt the Sixers were as intrigued by Curry’s 44% career 3-point-shooting, a necessity for a team that struggled all season from long range.
The Sixers also sent Horford and a protected future first-round pick to Oklahoma City in the trade with the Thunder.
The 76ers hope to build around All-Stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons and took a big step on Wednesday by surrounding them with shooters and increasing their cap flexibility to perhaps set the stage for another deal in a shortened offseason.
“When Joel and Ben have had that, it's actually insane how good those lineups and how good those teams played,” Morey said. “That was the theme for tonight. Getting Seth, you can argue he's the best shooter in the NBA.”
Morey said Simmons and Embiid “are going to be here for a long time.”
The draft almost became an afterthought for a franchise expected to contend in the Eastern Conference this year only to get swept in the first round by the Boston Celtics. That led to coach Brett Brown’s exit and a restructuring of the front office that ushered in Morey after a successful stint building the Houston Rockets into one of the top teams in the West.
Maxey might have had an inkling he was headed to Philadelphia.
“Fall in love with the process,” he posted on Instagram hours before the draft.
The 76ers know all about the Process.
Philadelphia is set to learn about Maxey.
Maxey, who burst into tears when he was selected, averaged 19 points for Kentucky last season and shot 43% from the field. He extended Kentucky’s streak of 11 straight drafts with a first-round pick. Maxey was the 30th first-round pick under coach John Calipari.
Maxey shot 29% from 3-point range.
He got an instant stamp of approval from Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James.
“CONGRATS Lil bro!! Proud of you kid. The work continues! Philly got a good one for sure!” James tweeted.
The 76ers also took Arkansas guard Isaiah Joe and DePaul forward Paul Reed in the second round.
Philadelphia will receive Danny Green and Terrance Ferguson from the Thunder.
The Sixers sent a 2025 first-round pick, protected 1-6 overall, to Oklahoma City. They also shipped the 34th pick in Wednesday's draft and the rights to European point guard Vasilije Micic to the Thunder.
The 76ers traded Horford more than a year after he was considered a ballyhooed free-agent signing away from rival Boston. Horford didn’t have the expected impact in the first season of a four-year contract worth $97 million and lost his starting spot late in the season. The Thunder are on the hook for Horford’s $27.5 million salary this season.
Horford averaged 11.9 points, 6.8 rebounds and 4.0 assists in his lone season with the Sixers. He never fit in playing up front alongside Embiid in a season that cost Brown his job.
Sixers general manager Elton Brand called the shots last summer but — while he kept his title and earned a contract extension — ceded the final call in the draft room to Morey.
“I listened a lot when I got here,” Morey said. “But it was pretty universal we needed to add these elements to the team.”
These were the first major moves of the new era led by Morey and Rivers, and Philadelphia dumped millions in salary that appeared to hinder the Sixers from making any other big moves.
“Doc is extremely comfortable, as am I, with what we have,” Morey said. “We feel very good with where we're at.”
Horford didn’t appear to fit in with the franchise moving forward under Rivers. The Sixers get major cap flexibility by taking Green with just $15 million and one season left on his deal.
Richardson was acquired last summer in the deal that sent Jimmy Butler to Miami. Curry is set to make about $8 million per year through the 2022-23 season. Richardson is set to make $10.8 million in 2020-21 and has a player option worth $11.6 million in 2021-22.
“Uh oh,” Richardson tweeted.