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Coming In For A Landing: What's Next For The Sixers?

As the Sixers slump home from an embarrassing first round exit, courtesy of a sweep by rivals the Boston Celtics, it certainly feels like there are more questions than ever about what is next for this Philadelphia team. This season, which has truly been the longest ever, has been filled with multiple chapters, ranging from some really incredible moments to perhaps some of the most hair-pulling and frustrating ones that basketball fans have seen. An early season fight night between Karl-Anthony Towns and Joel Embiid feels like several years ago by now; similarly, the days when this Sixers team entertained, rather than crushed its viewers, seem far in the distance.

There is almost no doubt Brett Brown will be seeing the exit door this offseason, with this year having been indicative of a man who may just be out of his depth and out of ideas. The fact that this team had only nine road wins when the season was halted in mid-March is an indictment in and of itself. The inability to integrate role players like Trey Burke, a type of player sorely needed for the Sixers, is inexcusable. Constant quotes from players about poor chemistry and low team morale are major red flags for a coach whose supposed primary strengths are man management and the ability to create a positive culture. In the past, Brett had proven to be good at these things. The ability to switch this team from aggressive losers to competitors in one season is certainly admirable, but his stay has perhaps run too long and a ceiling has been reached with Brett Brown as the coach.

Beyond Brett’s failings have been those of the front office, starting with a questionable ownership group who seem far too involved in roster decisions. Since the very suspicious ousting of Sam Hinkie and the forced acquisition of Jerry Colangelo and his son Bryan, there has been a sense of leading by committee within the organization. With no true decision maker, even now with Elton Brand as the general manager, there needs to be accountability and, in my opinion, a purge within the Sixers organization. This front office had the ability to transition with a young crop of talented players and a host of draft capital, yet they now have the second highest cap bill for the 2020-21 season without any tangible proof that this roster is worthy of luxury tax money. The fast forward nature of the Sixers in the last two years has been nothing short of negligence. The rush to trade for Jimmy Butler, only to let him walk, was criminal. The choice to trade Landry Shamet and a bevy of picks primarily for Tobias Harris was an abhorrent decision, only made worse by overpaying him four months later.

Transgressions of the past aside, the Sixers need to be bold as they move towards the future. They still have two bright stars in Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, both of whom are crucial anchors for this squad. Finding a suitor for either Al Horford or Tobias Harris should be a primary goal this offseason, as well as finding a coach who can manage this team properly. Stan Van Gundy or Mark Jackson would be another stone on the pathway to obscurity for the Sixers. A young candidate, perhaps even someone who is a relative unknown, should be the focus for this team. Drafting will be crucial again this year, as cap restraints will hamper additions to the team. The Sixers do have plenty of picks to choose from this year, but the mistake of smugly selling them for profit, as has occurred with alarming frequency in the past, cannot be made in this draft. Let’s be frank: it is almost certain to happen again.

2017-18 felt like the start of a brave adventure for this team. There was plenty of potential and excitement on the horizon. The years between then and now have seen almost half a dozen iterations of the 76ers, a constantly shifting form devoid of any structure or identity. As we move into the 2020-21 season, the hope and goal should be for more stability and level ground.

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