In previous seasons, the Philadelphia 76ers have been the team with the fewest wins. But somehow the team seemed to be “fun”. This year, however, the locker room is filled with controversy despite the team showing more promise than ever.
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Be careful what you wish for, you just may get it. In the case of the Philadelphia 76ers, this applies more to ownership than fans.
For three years, the Philadelphia 76ers took on a hiatus from “winning is everything”.
Perhaps it was the presumption that the team could win nothing. It may have been the realization from the 2013 NBA Draft and foreward that the team was okay with selecting talent who would only play for the team “in the future”. Perhaps it was the fact that the team’s front office was run by a “numbers guy”, a man named Sam Hinkie who would drop everything to talk to the players. Hinkie’s style was examining shot charts and workout videos in the back room, and then just casual conversation court-side.
Not much love there, is there? But lest we ignore our problem with Nerlens Noel… he went back to it. You see, he came back to face the Detroit Pistons. In fact, 20 minutes before game time he told the coach he would play. In the game, he got just eight minutes of playing time. That led to this action:
Nerlens Noel: “I think I’m too good to be playing 8 minutes. That’s crazy. That’s crazy. That’s crazy. We need to figure this s— out.”
Nov 21, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) along with forward Ersan Ilyasova (7) and guard T.J. McConnell (1) and forward Robert Covington (33) talk during a break in action against the Miami Heat in the second half at Wells Fargo Center. The Philadelphia 76ers won 101-94. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Business is Business
Whether you side with a player in his contract year trying to showcase his stuff, or side with a team trying to be fair to all of the players, it’s an eroding situation and it’s only getting worse. The problem is, this should not be happening. Part of the reason ownership wanted a change of direction was to improve communication.
But communication is the last thing coming out of the Philadelphia 76ers front office now.
But not everyone saw it that way. The “unspoken rules” of the NBA dictate that players go for the ring, the money, the chance to play quality minutes, and the opportunity to mentor rookies.
Likewise, the front office plays by it’s own set of rules. Deals must yield results in the present tense. Transactions must yield a higher risk to one team, but the higher risk alternates on the next transaction. But Sam Hinkie dealt to win 100 percent of the time, but took years to realize value.
In the end, the NBA wanted the 76ers to change. Bryan Colangelo was that change.
Jun 24, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo during an introduction press conference at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
The More Things Change, The More Things Stay The Same
But in the end, the Philadelphia 76ers ownership acquiesced to the NBA league. In the end, ownership determined that the team needed to be reeled in. The team needed to be run like a business after all.
When a player loses the trust and confidence of the head coach, it’s over folks. This was a situation where everyone saw what would be coming. But the reality was more fabrication that real time. Joel Embiid began the season on minutes restrictions, as did Jahlil Okafor. Nerlens Noel had that window of opportunity to play, make a statement, and earn his role with the team this season.
This team is in the process of constructing a championship team. Not all players fit as pieces to that team. But the front office gathered players to develop for three season, only turning to developing as a must this year. The pace of this team has converted from stroll to sprint. Ultimately, someone would complain.
Dec 14, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) and forward Nerlens Noel (M) and forward Ben Simmons (R) during a timeout in the second half against the Toronto Raptors at Wells Fargo Center. The Toronto Raptors won 123.114. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Which Way Is Up?
Now it’s up to the Philadelphia 76ers to do what businesses do, cut their losses. Noel, the center who offers so very much as an NBA rim protector, has forced the team’s hand. Was that his plan all along? Perhaps not, but the situation is a blazing bridge right now.
And the arsonist is not Noel, Noel’s agent or Brown. Noel is completely frustrated. Brown is trying to manage the issue in the best way possible.
But the fire was ignited in the off-season, when newly hired president Bryan Colangelo told the NBA that the team had too many centers. In fact, he did everything but guarantee that the team would trade one before the season. Now the team is a week from Christmas. And now he stands there, with a pack of matches and a gasoline can.
B Colangelo has always been smooth talking GM.Fact remains he missed window with Noel,who wants out, & any value is gone. Brown now screwed.
Jun 23, 2016; New York, NY, USA; A general view of a video board displaying all thirty draft picks in the first round of the 2016 NBA Draft at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 5, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers head coach Brett Brown reacts during the second quarter against the Denver Nuggets at Wells Fargo Center. The Denver Nuggets won 106-98. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Are Colangelo Goals With Or Without Brown?
Brett Brown has been all but abandoned by his front office over the Noel situation. Now that the situation has perculated into a media frenzy, Colangelo is stepping in very modestlyl.
Colangelo says Brown’s speaking that Noel will be out of rotation was because he just started experimenting with Embiid/Okafor, not punitive
This feels like a very political situation. Artificial in the making, but deadly in the eventual outcome. At risk is the career of center Nerlens Noel, playing time at center for the Philadelphia 76ers, and the coaching perpetuity of Brett Brown.
Things have certainly changed with the Philadelphia 76ers. The moves of Sam Hinkie are no longer up for public debate. Instead, the team is ablaze with controversy, frustration, and what will likely lead to remorse. It’s no longer fun and games in the Philadelphia 76ers locker room. Where there is smoke, there is fire. And the smog from the Toronto Raptors has settled in over Philadelphia.