Who remembers the days of the “process”? What a glorious time in Sixers history. I can’t recall the joy that I had, gearing up to watch my hometown team get bludgeoned on a nightly basis by every team in the league, night after night. So bad were those teams, that fans would come out to the Wells Fargo Center strictly to see the stars on the visiting team. What nerve! We had stars too!
And the best player since Michael Jeffery Jordan retired:
We had it all!!! Philly was the mecca of the basketball world for a few years. We were untouchable.
Ok, I’m lying. The Philadelphia 76ers were beyond horrible. There isn’t a word to describe how awful those teams were. But, much to the chagrin of Stephen A. Smith, this was apart of plan by then General Manager, Sam Hinkie. Using the draft system of the NBA against the NBA, Hinkie tanked purposely for years to get the top picks of those years in order to bring elite talent to the city of Brotherly Love.
It worked. Sorta.
Three of those four top picks are no longer in Sixers uniforms. Markelle Fultz, Jahlil Okafor, and most recently, Ben Simmons.
The fourth? Joel Embiid, has turned into a five time all star, three time All-NBA, twice runner up to the NBA MVP, 2021-2022 NBA scoring champion, and three time all defensive team selection.
Safe to say that Hinkie gifted Philadelphia with an anchor that could carry the franchise into the next decade. And Embiid has done that, and more.
But now, it may be safe to say that Joel Embiid’s days in Philadelphia are numbered.
How much longer will Joel Embiid be in a Sixers uniform?
Embiid is in the thick of his prime years. However, at age 28, Embiid has had more than enough of his share of serious injuries. This year’s playoffs have been another example of the wear and tear of league play taking a piece of him physically. How much more can the 7-foot, 280-pound man take? Add to the fact that the Sixers have not made it past the second round of the playoffs since 2001, those two factors can result in front office, and even Joel himself, wondering whether a move would be beneficial for both parties.
To add more context, the Sixers front office are facing the same obstacle that the prior regime, led by Billy King, couldn’t seem to figure out during the era of A.I.: finding a complementary star to play with their franchise player. The Sixers failed to give Iverson the star power needed to maximize his glory days back in the 2000’s. Today, the Sixers front office, led by Daryl Morey, and Elton Brand, are struggling to put the right pieces around Joel Embiid.
They are trying though.
Morey and company flipped a disgruntled, stagnant Simmons for James Harden this year in a blockbuster trade, but what they received has been anything but what they were anticipating. James Harden hasn’t aged well and that hasn’t helped Joel Embiid in any fashion in this series, or the first round series versus Toronto.
Does Harden stay after this season if the Sixers go down in six to the Heat? No one knows for sure. But he isn’t the answer long term to complement Embiid. So that brings the Sixers back to square one.
Whatever happens in Game Six, one thing is sure: Philadelphia is headed into uncertain waters this offseason. Maybe the “Process” never ended. It took on different aspects along the journey. And if the Process is still processing, then something is still wrong.
Let’s hope it can be fixed.