ESPN’s “Front Office” panel—featuring Tom Penn, Chad Ford, George Karl, Amin Elhassan and Kevin Pelton—took a deep dive in looking at the Sixers’ rebuild on Tuesday, and well, the outlook wasn’t exactly rosy.
Only two of the five—Elhassan and Pelton—expressed any sort of optimism regarding the Sixers’ long-term future, while Penn, Ford and Karl suggested Sam Hinkie’s grand plans had started to spring some holes.
To no one’s surprise, the most emphatic in his disapproval was Karl.
What is happening in Philadelphia should not be called ‘tanking’; rather, it should be called ‘destruction.’ The Sixers are at least three to five years away from even being a respectful — respectful — NBA roster. They are worse than they were at the end of last year. Three of the five starters barely played last season. I understand building around talent, but people have to understand that sometimes young players just don’t develop. You put all your eggs in that basket, but if the kids don’t pan out, you’re sunk.
I think this roster has such a low level of talent they’ll be hard-pressed to win an NBA game. To put this team through another season of turmoil will be devastating. What is being built in Philadelphia is not the development of young players, but instead a culture of losing.
So, there’s that.
Frankly, Penn and Ford raised valid concerns about the Sixers’ long-term plan. Penn questioned whether MCW, Embiid, Noel and Saric represent “true NBA greatness,” while Ford noted that the 2015 draft—in which the Sixers are likely to have another high lottery pick—”isn’t nearly as good as last year’s” and “is loaded with bigs at the top—the one thing Philly doesn’t need.” Hinkie could always trade down later in the lottery—four of the top 10 players on Ford’s 2015 Big Board are all small forwards, which is one of the team’s greatest needs at the moment—but again, these aren’t points to gloss over. They’re legitimate questions about the process.
Karl, on the other hand… well, the only thing I can think of after reading that diatribe is this:
Philly isn’t going to contend this coming season, but to say “they’ll be hard-pressed to win an NBA game” is beyond hyperbole. If the Sixers had all of their long-term salary-cap space tied up in this roster, the skepticism from the former Denver Nuggets’ coach would be warranted. However, they only have about $18.7 million on the books for the 2015-16 season, nearly $14.1 million of which is non-guaranteed (per Spotrac.com). Add a likely top-10 pick, Miami’s first-rounder (which will likely fall in the late-teens/early-20s) and $45-plus million in cap space, and the Sixers will soon be in excellent position to add talent through trades and free agency. These are points that any CBA/cap-conscious analyst would consider.
But Karl, the sixth-winningest coach in NBA history, is looking at the Sixers solely at the short-term; how do I mold these players into a title contender? It’s a narrow-sighted view of the Sixers that’s antithetical to the process that Hinkie and Brett Brown have been preaching.