“I don’t give a damn about the process”. Joel Embid, all-star big man for the Philadelphia 76ers said this after an emotional, tough, and buzzer-beater loss in game 7 to the Toronto Raptors. The 76ers once again fell short of their organization’s expectations, and once again failed to make the Eastern Conference Finals. Why did they fall short? What can they do this offseason to revamp and come back stronger next year? Is this the end of the process?
“Trust the Process” was a phrase that the 76ers embraced during the reign of former General Manager Sam Hinkie and carried on through the following years. His philosophy was to trade current players on a mediocre and possible playoff team to gather draft picks and young talent to build for the future; the beginning of the process. After years of struggle, the worst ever regular season record in NBA history, and multiple coaches and general managers, the 76ers entered this year’s playoffs with four stars: Joel Embid, Ben Simmons, Jimmy Butler, and Tobias Harris. This has been the peak of “the process” that Sam Hinkie had started years earlier. However, Sixers coach Brett Brown failed to make that next big step to the conference finals with more talent than ever before. Questions have also arisen about Joel Embid and Ben Simmons ability to play together offensively, with spacing issues due to both players scoring predominantly in the paint. These could very well be reasoning the Sixers fell short of the Eastern Conference Finals again this year; therefore, this is a big offseason for them to try and improve.
This upcoming free agency is a crucial one for the 76ers organization. With stars like Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris set to hit the free agent market, the Sixers will be put to the test with their cap space and providing incentives to bring them back to Philadelphia. But will bringing back the same squad that lost in 7 games in the Eastern Conference semi-finals take the Sixers where they want to be. Should they restart the process? Fire Brett Brown? Trade Ben Simmons for talent that changes the dynamic of the Sixers offense? Chris Broussard of Fox Sports recently reported that the 76ers will pursue a trade deal of Ben Simmons and assets for Lebron James. This would obviously be a tremendous upgrade for the Sixers and signify the organization’s plan to build around Joel Embid.
With a lot of uncertainty surrounding the future and upcoming offseason for the Sixers, it will be very interesting to see how they play it out. Will they end their previous work and rebuild or continue to “trust the process”? Only time will tell.