The Philadelphia 76ers was eliminated by the Boston Celtics just a few weeks ago, and the organization is in a familiar place – from the outside looking in. As the Miami Heat take on the Boston Celtics in the Conference Finals, Philly fans are blaming the recent premature exit and debating what franchise should be next.
Doc Rivers was fired a week ago and James Harden’s future in Philadelphia is in doubt. The two biggest promotions since the Celtics were ironically sucked into the Orlando bubble by the Celtics weren’t enough to propel the Sixers to the Eastern Conference Finals, a place the team hadn’t been to since 2001. Yes, Joel Embiid had his first season as MVP, but if a coach and Hall of Fame player can’t see this team through, what’s the real problem?
Is it property? Josh Harris, who recently bought the Washington Commanders, is easy to point the finger at because his acquisition of rival Eagles looks bad. Besides his try to move the Sixers to the arena in the city center saving money illustrates his concern for financial performance (owning is better than leasing). The thing is, the owners don’t play.
Is it management? Elton Brand, Daryl Morey and Brett Brown have been making dubious deals and signing free agents since 2018. Whether it was trading Mikal Bridges for Zair Smith on draft night or failing to find a way to secure Jimmy Butler from Tobias Harris, the Sixers dropped the ball multiple times.
Morey pulled Philly out of Ben Simmons’ epic fall, only to bring in the failing James Harden while dropping key players Seth Curry and Andre Drummond. Still, the board was not on the floor when the 76ers screwed up in games six and seven against the Celtics on Mother’s Day.
Joel Embiid is both the gift and the curse of Philly’s sustained and limited success since 2017. On the one hand, he is a dominant center who can score from anywhere on the court while also being an elite hoop defender. On the other hand, he can’t stay healthy and still performs poorly in the second round when the team needs him most.
There are three scenarios where the Sixers can break the shackles of post-season disappointment and center around the team’s most outstanding player. Here is the first scenario: