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Everybody else is doing it so why can’t we: The Sad Demise of the Post-Iverson Sixers

in HOOPS by

—At a certain point in the last three seasons, it appeared the Philadelphia 76ers were tanking: trading away their best talent and continuing to lose games.

The Sixers won just 19 games in the ’13-14 season. 18 in the ’14-15 season and just 10 games so far this season. Which ammounts to a 47-195 record. Since General Manager Sam Hinkie was hired.

Under Hinkie the Sixers wanted to score big in the draft, and they didn’t even come close.

But, hey, tanking is the new trying right? It’s how you build. Just like the Spurs did with Timmy Duncan, right?

It would seem as though that strategy was justified for a crystallized period in the NBA. Why go for 40 wins and the eighth seed, or even worse a low lottery pick, when you know the Heat or Spurs will win anyhow? You’re going to get punished in the draft for winning, but never make progress towards the promised land.

The 76ers led by General Manager Sam Hinkie tried to do the right thing in that they were really trying to bring a big time winner back to Philly. How they went about it is another matter.

But that ambition is huge and even more important in a huge basketball city. That much effort and intensity of desire is what spurns 13-page letters when it all unravels.

This week Hinkie resigned. In doing so he wrote a 13-page letter to ownership and Jerry Colangelo . Colangelo, the chairmen of USA Basketball and former owner of the Phoenix Suns, was hired by the team in December as a consultant and basically clean up the mess that was the Philadelphia 76ers.

Hinkie’s passionate 13-page letter was allegedly leaked to the media by Colangelo, according to Yahoo Sports . It now appears that Colangelo will bring in his son, Bryan Colangelo, to be Hinkie’s replacement.

Whether Hinkie deserved to go or not, the biggest problem people had with what was happening in Philly is they weren’t trying to do the right thing. They were actually tanking.  They weren’t trying to win. And it was about winning, even if you only win 40 games or a few less.

The strategy was clear: trading away their best talent in order to sink lower in the standings and get a higher pick in the NBA Draft lottery. In reality it was a vicious cycle of missing draft picks and continuing to tank. The legitimacy of the whole league was at stake and commissioner Adam Silver didn’t want that, so he tapped Jerry Colangelo to go in and try to teach the boys some good old fashion 80’s and 90’s NBA team building.

 

Much of an NBA’s success is dependent on talent evaluation. Beyond talent evaluation you then must decide would this player fit with our scheme. Then there’s the allure of the trade, the chance to give up something to get something in return and then get nothing. Which happened far too many times. Evan Turner was a nice piece and he’s doing great in Boston. Of course Turner probably didn’t want to be in Philly so they tried to get something for him or save money and they did not,Danny Granger never played an NBA minute for the Sixers, the incoming piece in the turner trade. Then there’s Michael Carter-Williams perhaps the most damaging of all the moves gone bad, you don’t trade Michael Carter-Williams.

And then there’s Jahlil Okafor who never wanted to be in Philly to begin with. But they drafted him anyway. Okafor might produce under new management and the right players around him. Protecting his talent might have also had something to do with the change in Philly.

And so with as much effort and desire of years, Sam Hinkie is gone and the the Father-Son combo of Jerry and Bryan Colangelo, who have never, let’s repeat that, been devoid of talent in their history with the NBA, and that most notably was with Phoenix and Toronto, are in.

The Colangelo’s have never gotten their respective teams over the hump per se, (Father closer than son with Phoenix such as in 1992-93), but they got them a whole lot further than Hinkie got the Sixers and more than likely will get them back to the respectable playoff contending ways.

Allen Iverson was traded in Dec. 2006. Since that trade, the Sixers have only won more than 40 games twice and have had a sub. 300 win percentage for the last three seasons.

It takes a lot of things to fall in the right place to be a contender, it takes hitting on the right guys in the draft year after year after year and building a system that makes those guys hits not misses. Ask Golden State and San Antonio.

Hinkie tried and he’s probably better off elsewhere. The NBA tasked Colangelo with making the Sixers respectable again, and Hinkie’s time ran out.