FAST FIVE – QUESTION OF THE DAY How do you fix the flagging Philadelphia 76ers, who seem destined for futility in the first quarter of the 2014-15 season?
DEVAN GONDA @G2hooeysports NBA/PBR/NASCAR Writer – Pine Canyon, Utah To fix the 76ers, you need to start at the top. Management needs to go. They continue to draft hurt players who miss the entire first year of their career and then tried to trade the one bright spot they had in Michael Carter-Williams, also the reigning Rookie of the Year. Trading away talents like Thaddeus Young and Andre Iguodala before that didn’t help them either. Doug Collins was a very good coach, but they set him up to fail – and they’re doing the same thing to Brett Brown. This dedication to losing is also disrespecting one of the most loyal fan bases in professional sports. General Manager Sam Hinkie and ownership should be paying fans to come watch the kind of product they’re putting on the floor every night. I can’t see any way to fix the 76ers with current management in place. The drafts, trades, and free agency are all products of people who obviously have their heads where there isn’t any sunshine.
JOEY CARROLL @JoeyCarroll305 NBA/NFL Writer – North Miami Beach, Florida The Philadelphia 76ers are the Oakland Raiders of the NBA, but even the Raiders have won. To me, it looks like ownership and management are on a tanking stretch to acquire a lot of young talent. MCW, Nerlens Noel (who was rehabbing his whole first year) and Joel Embiid (repeating Noel this year) are all cornerstones if the Sixers don’t get too desperate and start trading them away – or worse yet, letting them walk via free agency. Fixing the problem starts with the board of ownership. Get rid of Hinkie and Brown who both seem content with the worst record in the league and the worst start in franchise history. Find a no-nonsense GM and head coach and get all of this talent on the same page. If not, Sixers fans are going to lose it …
JOHN ASHMORE NBA Contributor; Owner, Head Publicist and Head of Marketing at Ashmore Sports and Entertainment – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania First off, I think the Sixers are a couple seasons away from making some noise. That’s of the players that are hurt (Embiid) and their draft pick overseas pan out, which all indications are that he will. I think that they need to re-sign (K.J.) McDaniels to a multi-year deal making him and Carter-Williams, along with Noel and Embiid the future of this franchise. They are shooting in vast abundance, just not scoring. Right now they just cannot figure out how to win games. Most of their players seem to be looking to impress scouts, so they can get a deal somewhere else. McDaniels’ mom saying the 76ers are tanking and hurting her sons’ future. They need a veteran in there to settle things down and the Sixers don’t have one. Look at the success the Washington Wizards are having since adding Paul Pierce. Having a veteran helps young guys learn to win. The way things are going, it looks like they will continue to stock through the draft and see what these young kids can do. No one likes losing and it’s a bet that last year and this year have probably made MCW think twice about re-signing with the Sixers. It’s a tough road but hopefully the end result is greater than the product of today. Bright side is it can’t get any worse.
NICK ALVAREZ NBA/NFL Writer – Houston, Texas At 0-17, the 76ers have been the NBA’s punching bag this season. It’s a very young team with some nice young talent in Tony Wroten, Noel, MCW and McDaniels. Hinkie is a promising GM who was Daryl Morey’s right-hand man – both use analytics in their processes and are not afraid to acquire assets for future moves. They may look lost right now, but I wouldn’t be surprised if some of these young players are pieces for future moves, where Hinkie could integrate a solid veteran or two into this young roster. Yes, Embiid will be out the entire season, but I feel he will prove to be a nice acquisition in the future. I feel Philly is on a good path, but they’ve got to beat the Timberwolves, Lakers or Pistons in at least one of the next three games or they’re going to end up the laughing stock of the NBA for life. I see the 76ers trading a few players and drafting another young talent this off-season with the hope that they can all mesh and become a decent team in the softer Eastern Conference. I wouldn’t hit the panic button yet, maybe if they become the first team to go 0-82.
SCOTT FIELDS @Scott_Fields Host of the Coach Scott Fields Show, former head coach in Venezuela, China and the CBA – Salt Lake City, Utah Knowing most of the staff on the 76ers and their front office, I still have an outside-looking-in perspective on this. No one knows for sure the direction of the 76ers’ brain trust, but we certainly know they are loaded with young talent and seem committed to developing that talent. The front office and coaching staff seem to be on the same page as they have hired more player development coaches. The question is are the fans willing to be patient and pay regular season ticket prices for what is sub-par product at present? To develop your plan, I believe you have to stick to it and ride it out, regardless of initial consequences. I don’t believe in tanking and I don’t believe that’s what’s going on. These men are professionals. They want to win. They will continue to work and develop. I feel they have great young talent. They need to get healthy, develop the young talent and build chemistry. Will they test the market in free agency if the price is right? Is this a two- or three-year plan? In this microwave society, we want success quickly. To build what Philadelphia is trying to build is a process. The trick is to keep everyone on the same page throughout that process – that includes the Sixers’ fans. Keep frustrations in check, keep the press and fans in check, and continue to keep your players focused on the task at hand – building a winner. It may not be the sexiest solution, but that’s how I see it from a professional coach’s mindset.
TRACY GRAVEN @tmoneymediaohio NBA/NCAA/WNBA Editor – Cincinnati, OhioI agree with Coach Fields. There has to be a plan and it has to be followed through to execute the desired end result. But if you’re asking people to keep paying premium prices for a product that doesn’t even know what agenda it’s following, then Sixers fans would be better off watching their D League team, the Delaware 87ers. Ticket prices are cheaper and at least they’re 3-2. It’s hard to watch a storied franchise like this struggle – I miss Pat Croce. This team was fun with him in charge, Larry Brown on the bench and Allen Iverson at the point. All that is gone so this “dry spell” is longer than current management – it’s squarely on ownership. Will and Jada Pinkett Smith are part of this group. I’m still waiting on my refund for ‘After Earth’ and I’ll never get that 100 minutes of my life back and Sixers fans should feel the same about wasting three hours of their lives that they’ll never get back every time they go to a Philly game, money aside. So many people try and go out and become the next Sam Presti or the next Daryl Morey instead of being the first Sam Hinkie or Rich Cho. Pedigree means nothing other than your boss did his job. People need to believe in you because you’re you and one way to do that is to go out there and present your plan, ask for people’s patience and run your business with transparency, never forgetting those butts in seats are the reason you have your exorbitant salary. When those butts go to the Bob Carpenter Center, where are you going to get your money? Rob Hennigan came from Oklahoma City, but he’s never ridden Presti’s coattails and he’s been very transparent about the direction he wants to take the Orlando Magic (which has at least seven wins this season, in their own rebuilding process). Hinkie needs to do the same. Ownership doesn’t seem to be near as engaged as they need to be and as Croce was. I mean, if I want to see a bad Will Smith product, I’ll dial up “I Robot” on Netflix … it’s cheaper than a Sixers game and – these days – more entertaining. (C’mon, Will, you’re better than this – get engaged!) Fixing it? Bring back Pat Croce!!!
WILLIAM GONZALEZ @wilawssum NBA/NHL Writer – Belleville, New Jersey This franchise has turned out some of the greatest players this league has ever boasted in the past. Julius Erving. Moses Malone. Charles Barkley. Now they have become the laughing stock of the league. There’s no leadership in the front office. No defined plan for the team’s future. Seemingly, it looks like they are building around MCW and Noel, two good players, but not building blocks in my opinion. Then they draft Embiid, who is out for the entire season. So “the plan” is to start next year anew with these three players and yet another high draft pick? This is a team that won 19 games last season and is on its way to worse futility this season. They may win fewer games than the Philadelphia Eagles, who only play 16 games all year. The fans should boycott and stop going to games. It’s a disgrace to not even try to put a decent product on the floor. Somewhere down the line, there may be a silver lining. But that future is too far away. “Wait until next year” has become too common a theme for this storied franchise. Fans have waited too many years …