Friday, August 2, 2013

Dear 76ers: Could You Not Make Tanking Look So Obvious?

The month of August is typically a slow one for the NBA.  Teams are evaluating post Summer League prospects while making deals for the best of the rest that still remain on the Free Agent wire. It’s a time when coaches start formulating their plans and goals for the upcoming season, and have possibly even started articulating this to their respective teams.  Simple things like this are to be expected since it is only August. Like most teams the Philadelphia 76ers are surely following suit in these basic procedures. Well at least they would be, if they had actually had a coach.

As of the date of this article the 76ers are the only NBA teams that are still missing a head coach. This typically wouldn’t be an issue if it weren’t the early days of August, when large portions of the off-season have already transpired. The NBA has successfully had its annual draft, Summer League exhibition, and in a few days will be revealing its upcoming season schedule. While it’s become quite obvious that the Sixers have no intentions of truly competing this season, it would be nice if they weren’t so obvious about it.

There have been cases made that the Sixers aren’t in dire need of a coach because the GM is handling all of the grunt work. Sam Hinkie may very well be one of the more promising General Managers in the game when it’s all said and done, but a compelling GM does not substitute for the stability that a coach brings to a team. The Sixers front office may very well be putting all their money on the Draft class of 2014, the actual players on the Sixers roster would benefit if they had… some kind of leader that they could endure what is undoubtedly going to be a trying season.

Nerlens Noel, and Michael Carter-Williams have all but been deemed the first pieces of a new foundation for this franchise. Both are projects for obvious (and maybe not so obvious) reasons, and having a coach assess those needs is vital. Especially when you have a returning Arnett Moultrie, who never quite had a chance to develop under Doug Collins who was notorious for undervaluing rookie players. The Sixers should at least allow them in addition to the returning veterans a chance to sink completely with a coach leading them. The front office may want them to lose every game, but these players all still need to go out every night and play as if they’re getting paid to do this. That requires game planning, adapting a style of play, and building chemistry with whoever they’ll be going to war with from now until next April.

Unless of course the 76ers are already planning to fire whoever they hire once the season is over, and just don’t care to pretend that they’re looking for a figure that can remain with them for years.  While that’s probably not the case it’s hard imagining anything else. The whole waiting for the right guy thing sounded good when all the best guys were still on the market. The 76ers can’t possibly believe that the best available coach was the one they had been waiting for this entire time. The 76ers are just now deciding to look at free agents because they have yet to make the minimum required under the salary cap. Seriously, at this point the intelligence of even the most casual of fans is being insulted.

The fact that there are people saying it doesn’t matter when they hire a coach has made this situation that much more embarrassing. As bad as the team was last year, the 76ers were still a good (at times) defensive team. Doug Collins gave them an identity as a defensive minded team, and as of now this team has no identity at all.

Yes, the 76ers are going to be terrible this year. In fact it’s possible that we don’t even realize how bad they’ll be, and without a coach or any clear person to hold accountable, could reach an epic level of disaster. Fans know this. Analysts know this. Even the roster as it stands now knows this. None of that should matter in terms of filling a priority need. Even if they’re not fully committing to any coach that they bring in, at the least they can hire someone that can evaluate the teams on court areas alongside Hinkie.  That is if they do intend on at least showing up to games this season. 


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