While Sixers head coach Brett Brown recently discussed pipe dreams of how the Sixers can become the San Antonio Spurs, I feel bad for the guy. This disaster isn’t his fault. He’s been put into a terrible position of trying to generate some kind of positive productivity on the basketball court, yet again, from scratch. This organization and franchise has done significant, self-inflicted harm to itself over the past couple years. They were on a pathway to something interesting and, I hesitate to say, captivating. Then the air was let out of that balloon that was slowly rising. It’s now fizzled to the ground.
Just a few weeks ago, we saw the surprising and essential “demotion” of general manager Sam Hinkie through the hiring of a new chairman of basketball operations, Jerry Colangelo. Just recently the Sixers hired assistant head coach Mike D’Antoni. Is he here to help coach, or is he the eyes and ears for the front office? The overall message: this franchise is taking a new avenue to rebuild – and again, it’s going to take even more time. My co-host, Len, has an inclination and thought process that the Sixers recent first-round pick, Jahlil Okafor, may be traded this season. Of course, that would put yet another wrench into the “rebuild.” Anymore, the decision-making process seems like a never ending spiral into the Twilight Zone with no end in sight. When is enough, enough?
A lot of Sixers fans are fine with these hires and maneuvers from the front office. And that’s fine. How can you blame the fans? On the surface, even I’m generally (yet skeptically) fine with these moves, too, as I’ve said on the podcast show. But when you take a look deeper into the pit of Sixers owner Josh Harris’ lair, that’s where this entire debacle of a mess started and now rests. He’s responsible. He let it get out of control. Whether he was concentrating a little too much on the New Jersey Devils (his other favorite professional sports team), his 18-percent stake in Crystal Palace FC of the English Premier League, or trying to establish a long-lasting NFL franchise and expansion team in England, he’s been at the helm, sitting on the throne and overseeing the Sixers down this ugly and dreadful direction.
While I do believe that Joel Embiid’s injury and his physical setbacks have contributed to this team charting a different path for the future, it’s not the only reason we’re witnessing the chaotic turnaround and shifting of the Sixers front office. The decisions and terrible first 30 games to the Sixers season lay not only with Hinkie, but ultimately with Harris. He gave the go-ahead and, on the face of it, supported Hinkie’s efforts. The trades, the acquiring of assets, countless of second-round picks, picking up players from other teams solely to dump them, and first-round picks for the future should have placed the Sixers in a better position this year on and off the court. Can you sense me rolling my eyes.
Nik Stauskas has basically been consigned to the bench in recent games. Any kind of “chemistry” between Nerlens Noel and Okafor at this point seems forced or simply lacking. There’s no threat of outside shooting. Brown supposedly has been challenging his players’ competitive spirit of late. It’s something he’s never had to do. At no time has it ever been an issue during his tenure because the team has always fought hard on the court given the talent. Yes, these are all negatives. And these are negatives that might not be so prevalent today had Harris not given the green light for this organization and team to head on a crash course into the pits of hell.
Can you believe the previous two seasons, technically, were better than what we’re seeing now? Last season’s Sixers finished 18-64. Can you imagine 18 wins this season? Len predicted a 25-win season and I predicted 28 wins. Yeah, I just rolled my eyes again. But they need to bring in some veteran talent to help mentor some of these young players. Well, not so fast.
We’ve heard the reports that free agents want nothing to do with Philadelphia. Aside from being a football town, Philly is also a basketball town. From the high school ranks and up, basketball lovers far and wide look at Philly as a staple and foundation of basketball. Yet now there’s a hands off approach and a stain of disgust from the NBA, agents, players, and executives that surrounds and encases the Sixers. This kind of disdain doesn’t shoot out of the clear blue. It builds up over time. As a result, how can this be productive for any kind of rebuild? Any owner who deeply cares about progressing their team, satisfying the fan base and doing the best job possible for their coaches and players wouldn’t have been playing roulette for as long as Harris has.
Two seasons ago, the banner on the Sixers website proudly read: Together We Build. This season, that slogan changed to: This Starts Now. I just rolled my eyes, yet again. With an atrocious and contemptable 1-29 record – yes, that’s right, a 1-29 record – nothing is building and nothing has started. Inevitably, this is on Harris.