Almost a week has passed since the beginning of free agency and while the Sixers have made some moves, they may not exactly be the moves that will excite a fan base that has been hopelessly waiting for their team’s resurrection for what feels like 20 years.
When Hinkie took over in 2012, he had a vision. A vision where he would ship all the current assets out of Philadelphia in order to build for a bright future. His first move came in the 2013 draft trading point guard Jrue Holiday for the draft pick that eventually turned out to be Nerlens Noel. This continued strategy brought in a heap of young, talented big men like Joel Embiid, Dario Saric, Jahlil Okafor, as well as the number one overall pick from this year’s draft which turned out to be Ben Simmons. While Hinkie’s strategy will not be fulfilled by Hinkie himself, Sixers fans have to start trusting a new process: The Colangelo process. Sixer’s current president and general manager Bryan Colangelo has promised the fans that this process will only move forward (compared to Hinkie’s process which looked like we were running in circles).
One thing this fan base has been over the last 3 years is patient. Colangelo understands where we are coming from, but he is waiting for the right time to strike. He doesn’t want to waste these last 3 rebuilding years to turn around and be a mediocre seven seed again. Plus, what’s the point of rushing this process if the Cavs are going to the finals out of the east for at least another year? Once Iverson left, the Sixers were never better than a seven seed and the only time they made it out of the first round was thanks to the two timely injuries of Derek Rose and Joakim Noah.
The Sixer’s offseason moves thus far have been the signings of mediocre back court players. This is what the fans see. What they may not see is Colangelo’s strategic approach to this offseason. While other teams are paying upwards of $70 million over 4 years to glorified backups, Colangelo is staying the course and only signing short 2 or 3 year deals. By not being handcuffed to mediocre players in the future, this will allow the Sixers to be extremely active in the next few offseasons because they’ll have so much more cap flexibility than the average team. With the exception of Durant, there really wasn’t another star that the Sixers wanted to mortgage their future on this year; not to mention they aren’t quite ready to make a splash in this offseason, but are primed to make a run at the numerous all-stars in next year’s free agency period.
Colangelo recently spoke with ESPN regarding his process. He talked about how the “Big 3” in Miami took multiple years of preparation; the kind of preparation needed to be able to sign multiple max level players. Pat Reilly of the Heat did not wake up one day and decide he wanted to sign Lebron James; it took years of planning, moving the right pieces around to be able to land James a few years down the road. This strategy is what Colangelo is replicating. In his interview with ESPN, he spoke about his desire to bring 2 or 3 max level players to Philadelphia to play alongside their young, talented front court. It doesn’t happen overnight but since Colangelo has taken over, you can already tell the Sixers are trending upward. In his vison, he sees the prospect of multiple all-stars wanting to play alongside Ben Simmons and Jahlil Okafor for max money which the Sixers will have thanks to a frugal offseason this year.
Some fans are waiting for a huge blockbuster trade to land a player like Westbrook or Jimmy Butler using their huge pile of assets to do so. The reason the Sixers won’t be too quick to jump on these opportunities is because they both only have a year left on their contracts and there’s a huge risk that they wouldn’t resign with us following this season. So what’s the point of giving away a top pick (from the Lakers) and a young big man like Noel or Okafor, if you could lose that player 82 games later. By not trading for an all-star right now, they have the ability to sign them for a long term deal next offseason and solidify a bright future.
So fans might be disgruntled with the lack of big moves this offseason, but as the team on the court improves, so do our chances of making huge deals with great players in the near future. And as we sit back and watch these other teams write huge checks to players you may have never heard of, Colangelo is patiently waiting for his time to strike. He doesn’t want to just be a good team for the next few years, he wants to be a great team for the next decade.