One man will determine how the season will end for the Philadelphia 76ers, and it isn't Joel Embiid.
Pretend we are in Philadelphia, PA. The month is about to turn to February 2024. Suddenly, as we watch the TV, Jonathan Kuminga takes an awkward fall onto Joel Embiid's knee. He is taken off the court, never to return again...more like the foreseeable future, but you catch my drift.
The sky is falling. Reality ceases to exist. Anarchy and chaos flood the minds of the Philadelphia 76ers' faithful. Nothing is right in this world. At least for the next couple of weeks. Unfortunately last week, Sixers' superstar Joel Embiid injured his meniscus and will be out for the next few weeks (at the very least). The Sixers have fallen into fifth place in the East since the injury occurred, with a 1-2 record without him in the lineup. The team is suddenly at a crossroads.
The Sixers are good enough to compete without Embiid, but their ceiling takes a massive hit. If and when Embiid gets healthy, this team will be right back in the thick of the Championship hunt. This means that the Sixers will have to at least tread water until Embiid (hopefully) comes back. That makes the rest of the season hang on the shoulders of one man. That man is President of Basketball Operations for the 76ers, Daryl Morey.
Daryl Morey must decide which direction he wants this team to go at the deadline
As stated earlier, the 76ers roster is good enough to compete and make the playoffs. Tyrese Maxey is a star and Tobias Harris and Kelly Oubre Jr. have played well all season long. The team has plenty of reserves that allow this team to go deep. The question is, will Morey make a move at the deadline to improve the roster, or hope that Embiid comes back to save the day? That is a tough question.
Morey's goal is to bring Championships to Philly. He is known as a straight shooter and a guy who will do what it takes to get the best out of his team. It seems likely that Morey will look to make a move at the deadline, but will that deplete this roster? Suffice it to say, Embiid's injury history isn't the best, and providing him with less help might make him have to shoulder even more of a load than he already has. That can't be good for his health.
On the other hand, if they don't go out and get roster improvements, how far will this team fall? The Knicks and Cavs are on fire. The Bucks are always going to be tough. The Celtics have been the best team in the NBA this year. What if the current roster can't get this team into a top-six seed? What if they have to survive the play-in tournament? Anything can happen.
This is a very interesting predicament the Sixers have. Regardless, it will be up to Daryl Morey to make either wager, stay put, and compete with what you have, or bring in new faces to help this current roster compete. It is an impossible decision that only Morey has the answer to. Teams never want to gut their rosters for a measly chance to compete. There is no guarantee that the new pieces will work. There is also no guarantee that Embiid even comes back this year.
Fortunately for us fans, we don't have to make that decision. The person who has to make that decision is Daryl Morey and it is going to be wicked interesting to see how he operates this deadline. The moves they make are going to speak mountains for the expectations for the rest of the season.