Daryl Morey blew it when he traded Patrick Beverley and Marcus Morris from the Sixers

Before we go any further, understand that I endorsed the move when the Sixers traded Patrick Beverley and Marcus Morris Sr.

This isn’t an “I-told-you-so” column. This is a “You-should-be-smarter-than-me” column.

Daryl Morey is, in most areas, much smarter than I am. That’s why he makes $12 million a year, which is at least twice as much as me, and that’s why he never should have done what I would have done.

I applauded on Feb. 8 when the Sixers sent Pat Bev to Milwaukee for Cam Payne and sent Morris to the San Antonio Spurs in a three-team deal that landed them Buddy Hield from Indiana.

“I feel like we got the best player at the trade deadline that was traded,” Morey said at the time.

“Love the Buddy Hield trade,” I tweeted, along with a poll, in which 161 like-minded souls agreed with me and Big D.

We were all so naïve.

Blinded by Hield’s 16.1-point scoring average in his first seven full seasons, smitten by his 40.2% three-point rate, we ignored his deficiencies — he can’t create his own shot, and his defense makes James Harden look like Dennis Rodman — because the Bahamian Bomber was the answer to our fevered, analytic-fueled dreams.

Payne? Well, he’d been to the NBA Finals with the Suns. Maybe not “the best player at the trade deadline that was traded,” but he had playoff DNA, baby.


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The Sixers jettisoned their two cleverest, toughest players, and they’re paying for it. They find themselves trailing, 3-1, in the first round of the playoffs to a Knicks team built on grit and guile. Beverley and Morris lasted a combined 25 years in the NBA because of their gritty guile.

Maybe the series would be different if the Sixers had more grit and guile. Maybe they wouldn’t be facing elimination Tuesday in New York. Who knows?

It began with such promise.

The Sixers lost their fourth consecutive game the day after the trades, but Hield logged the first of four straight 20-point games. Daryl (and I) looked brilliant.

Hield hasn’t sniffed a 20-point game since his Sixers honeymoon. He’s suddenly gun-shy in the playoffs; he’s taken only four three-pointers in three games, and he’s scored only one basket, a layup. Nick Nurse can’t afford to let him leave the bench. Payne’s getting his minutes.

That’s not optimal, because Payne immediately was relegated to backup duty when the Sixers agreed to terms with veteran Kyle Lowry on Feb. 10.

Lowry is shooting 42.3% from the field in the playoffs.

Meanwhile, Knicks point guard Jalen Brunson is cooking everybody. If Beverley was in Philly, Brunson might still be getting hoops, but he’d be earning them.

On the Morris front: Paul Reed, Joel Embiid’s backup, has been so bad, so soft, and so clumsy that Nurse had to play Embiid all 24 minutes of the second half in Game 4 on Sunday. Mo Bamba has not played in the series. The Knicks charge the paint with abandon when Embiid is out. That abandon would be checked if Morris was still around.

The trade made sense at the time.

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Embiid had just undergone knee surgery that would cost him most of the rest of the season, which it did. He led the NBA in scoring. Shooting guard De’Anthony Melton was dealing with a bad back. The Sixers needed offense.

Pat Bev is 35, and he hasn’t sniffed a double-digit scoring average in seven years, so he wasn’t going to give them that; his 6.0 average with the Bucks is in line with what he contributed in Philly. Morris, who is 34, wasn’t going to be getting buckets, either. He’d averaged 6.7 points in sporadic duty over 37 games with the Sixers.

But you know what they would have done? When the Knicks punched the Sixers in the mouth, they’d have punched back. Every time. Harder. Dirtier.

Instead, the Sixers have Nico Batum and Kelly Oubre Jr. traipsing around the paint, scared that Josh Hart or OG Anunoby will hurt their feelings if they take a ball to the hole with their chest. They’ve got Tobias Harris hoping his layups go in. They’ve got Lowry playing his 38-year-old butt off, but 38-year-old NBA guards don’t have much butt left.

Would Beverley and Morris make a material difference? Probably not against, say, the top-seeded Celtics, who are too good for the Sixers’ personnel to matter. Probably against the third-seeded Bucks, who stink without injured superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo. In fact, with Embiid back — even at 70%, or whatever his knee allows — the only roster besides Boston’s that would cause the Sixers problems is the Knicks’. Of the six other teams, they stand alone as the club that requires the unique services of Beverley and Morris, cudgels in sneakers.

After all, Beverley and the Bucks trail the Pacers, 3-1, and they’re finished now that Damian Lillard has joined Giannis on the sideline with an Achilles tendon injury. Beverley is averaging 7.5 points and 33 minutes. He is not a difference-maker there.

The Spurs bought out Morris’ contract and he landed in Cleveland, where the Cavs and Magic are tied, 2-2. Morris did not play in the first two games, which the Cavs won, and scored nine points in 15 minutes of Games 3 and 4, which the Cavs lost. He is not a difference-maker there.

No, there’s just one playoff team in the Eastern Conference on which Beverley and Morris would have been difference-makers: the one that threw them away.

And I knew it all along. (I totally didn’t.)

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