It’s been quite a week for the team with one win and 23 losses. They lost by 51 points to the Spurs on Monday. They tried to avoid their 14th straight road loss in Brooklyn on Thursday but, of course, were beaten by nine, and all things considered, that was a respectable performance for this mix-matched group of players that loses games the same way Jackson Pollack created abstract art whereas a bunch of random things happen at the same time. The Sixers lost last night to the Pistons by 12. So it was a usual Mon-Friday output for the most insensible organization in the NBA, and speaking of that clueless organization, something else happened to the Sixers this week.
NBA owners were concerned with what’s been going on with the Sixers; they needed help. But truthfully, the Sixers needed help long before now. Their installation of “The Process” has only yielded rebuke and scorn. Results have been meager. The economics of losing is always of concern. In the NBA the rich give to the poor so the Sixers were getting a lot of revenue sharing money on the one hand while their misguided ability to build a team on the other was making them an outlier. In a league in which talent delivers wins, the Sixers were excising their talent.
Enter leader extraordinairre Jerry Colangelo into this melodrama. Colangelo’s business style is one of action and aggression, not sitting back and waiting for a phone call, so his consultant title is in name only. He is there to get the ball rolling and to shake things up so Philly can change the conversation.
It still feels like a sinking ship.
The Jahlil Okafor mess exacerbated the tension. The Sixers failed a kid they claimed to love by not providing him sufficient leadership to help with his maturity.
In the draft, the Timberwolves selected Karl-Anthony Towns with the #1 pick, pairing him with Kevin Garnett. The Lakers selected D’angelo Russell as the #2 pick, paring him with Kobe Bryant. The Knicks selected Kristaps Porzingis as the #4 pick, pairing him with Carmelo Anthony.
The Sixers selected Jahlil Okafor with the #3 pick and paired him with Nerlens Noel.
There are innovative ideas about how to rebuild but not at the process of young rookies who need direction. The Sixers let Okafor down and it was a bad precedent and a public relations nightmare. For the near future, Okafor will wear the scarlet label of immature because the Sixers didn’t intervene. Furthermore, they vastly underestimated the psychosis that losing brings upon young men used to winning, how it affects their mind.
There are other bad NBA teams, the Sixers have not cornered the market. The Lakers have been inept in the same time period the Sixers have enacted “The Process”. But if the Lakers traded Jordan Clarkson and D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle and then expected Larry Nance Jr. to be the starting power forward and helpless Robert Sacre to play center for 38 minutes and they traded Lou Williams for three second round draft picks and traded Nick Young for cash, then you’d have a copy of the Sixers.
The Sixers have done this:
They traded All-Star Jrue Holiday and then lied- by ommission- about his health. They traded Rookie of the Year Michael Carter Williams and got a draft pick. They traded Nic Vucevic for Andrew Bynum who played zero games for them. On draft night, they traded Elfrid Payton. They got rid of Evan Turner in exchange for Danny Granger who, of course, they waived. They traded every single first round draft pick from 2009-2013 (Holiday, Turner, Vucevic, Harkless, Carter-Williams). Kudos to them, they get the Lakers pick this year if it lands outside the top 3, which is highly unlikely.
In three years, the Sixers have won 38 games and this week they signed their coach, Brett Brown, to a contract extension for being able to bear it all. He truly is a saint.
The Sixers are a revolving door of futility but in this land of milk and honey they are making lots of dough. They get revenue sharing from the league, particularly from the Lakers who pay the most into the revenue sharing pot because they make the most, courtesy of their Time Warner television mega-deal.
It must infuriate Jeanie Buss to know that the Lakers are working 24-7 to restore their father’s franchise while the Sixers are being creative and mostly failing to restore their franchise and as a payoff, or as a Laker punishment, she has to fork over money to them. The Sixers neglience is rewarded while the Lakers cluelessness is routinely skewered.
For years Donald Sterling scammed the NBA system. He figured out you didn’t have to win in the NBA to make money and so he didn’t win, he cashed checks and abused people until Chris Paul landed in his lap and then everything changed.
Be the change you want to see in the world. That piece of advice has Mike D’Antoni on the Sixers radar.
Colangelo, needing to do something, is intent on bringing in his old Phoenix pal D’antoni as an assistant coach. Adrian Wojnarwoski of Yahoo reported that D’Antoni wants to get back into the NBA and as an assistant is a good place to start. Looking at the league and seeing everyone playing his system but with a wrinkle- defense included- must make D’Antoni envious. He should be out there running the offense that he created, that changed the NBA as we know it. But D’Antoni has always been allergic to the other side of the floor when you have to stop people, believing it mucks up his beautiful game.
Beauty and the Sixers are rarely in the same sentence, particularly when it has to do with offense. They are 29th in field goal percentage. They are 27th in 3-point percentage, a D’Antoni nightmare. They are 28th in free throw percentage. They are 24th in assists, another D’Antoni hardening of the jaw until it nearly breaks. “Shoot it or move it” is D’antoni’s classic line. The problem with the Sixers, their shooting is anemic and inept.
Their seven footer doesn’t shoot 50%. Their 6-11 forward shoots 43%. Their small forward shoots 38%. Of the 8 players who average over 20 minutes a game, 4 shoot over 40% and 4 shoot under 40% which is why the Sixers are last in scoring at 91 points a game.
“The Process”, hopefully, is coming to an end but not because of any D’Antoni cure. He had his day with Steve Nash. The only other Steve Nash clone is Steph Curry. Everyone else is a hybrid scorer/driver/passer. It remains to be seen if D’Antoni can adapt his pioneering offense into a more compatible modern version with defense.
Will he affect the Sixers? No. Only talent and keeping their draft picks will do that.