Forgive me for not mentioning the ’09-’10 Sixers at all this year. Really, there’s nothing to say — they are a horribly coached collection of swingmen with no specialities, overpaid non-difference makers, athletic youngsters who can’t shoot, and a team stricken by amnesia — they literally forgot how to defend in one season.
But all that could’ve changed yesterday, either by unloading Andre Iguodala and Samuel Dalembert for Tracy McGrady’s production “One Way Ticket Outta Cap Hell” or Amar’e Stoudemire’s Platinum Plus Rental Service. Hell, they could’ve improved the team biggest weaknesses, shooting and defense, by going after lesser names like John Salmons or Jared Jeffries and fight for another playoff spot.
Instead, GM Ed Stefanksi and Team President Ed Snyder would rather give us The Usual for another year: 38-42 wins, a possible seventh or eighth seed playoff berth, a swift execution by Cleveland or Orlando in the first round, and a first round pick somewhere between 15 and 22.
I know Ed Snyder’s plan is to make as much consistent cash as possible by putting out a winning team. A winning team, not a championship team. He’s done it with the Flyers since the mid-90’s. But what the hell exactly is Ed Stefanski’s philosophy? To quote Don Draper, he hasn’t made one move I couldn’t live without. He walked into a situation where a team was young, fast, athletic, exciting, and on the rise after making the playoffs back-to-back years. He brought his New Jersey Nets pedigree which was what exactly—ride out Jason Kidd in his prime when the East was an absolute toilet?
Quick: name one other stud on those Nets teams that made the Finals.
I look at Atlanta who botched draft picks (not taking Chris Paul) but signed Joe Johnson, drafted and developed Josh Smith & Al Horford, traded for Mike Bibby, and within 2-3 years became an elite team in the East that can seriously push the Celtics, Cavs and Magic. And their coach Mike Woodson was rejected by the Sixers so they could hire Jim O’Brien.
I look at the Clippers, arguably the worst franchise in pro sports. They have young studs (Eric Gordon, Blake Griffin) next to All-Stars (Baron Davis, Chris Kaman) and are clearing cap space to make a splash in the offseason.
I look at the Bulls, who not unlike the Sixers, kept making the playoffs and getting bounced in the first round. They have minimal bad contracts remaining (Luol Deng) and have freed up cap space to bring in D-Wade/Bosh/LeBron/Amare to join forces with Derrick Rose and dominate for the next decade.
The Rockets use advanced stats and scouting to find overlooked gems for cheap to patch in next to Yao and McGrady before he got traded. They won like 27 games in a row last year and casual fans can’t name five guys on that team outside of Battier and Yao.
The Celtics tanked the ’06 season on purpose to get a high pick, and when they didn’t get a shot at Oden or Durant, they flipped everything and won a title the very next year. Even though they’ve cooled off since their title run, they’re still a lock to win 50 games.
All the teams I listed had a PLAN. And they stuck to it. It was grueling and rough. But it didn’t last forever.
We’re stuck in a Purgatory of Mediocrity the likes of which not even William Blake would dream up.