How Much Patience Will the 76ers Front Office Have?

Over the next few weeks The Crossover will be examining one big-picture question for every NBA team. Today we take a look at the Philadelphia 76ers, who were 39–26 when the season was suspended.
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The 76ers were in the midst of a somewhat disappointing campaign when the season was suspended. Philly wasn’t an outright disaster, but the Ben Simmons-Joel Embiid fit continued to raise eyebrows, there were some questions within the team about “heart,” and Brett Brown’s job always seems to be hanging by a thread. By the time play was stopped, the Sixers were in sixth place in the East, one spot behind (by virtue of a tiebreaker) the Pacers, who were missing Victor Oladipo for much of the season.

The question for Philly is whether the front office will look at this season as too complicated to judge and let everyone run it back next year(?), or if GM Elton Brand will blow everything up the first chance he gets. History would probably suggest the latter. Brand has been, uh, aggressive since taking over for Bryan Colangelo. The roster has been made over several times, from the Tobias Harris trade, to the Jimmy Butler trade, to the second Jimmy Butler trade, all the way down to the Al Horford signing. Every iteration of the Sixers during Brand’s tenure have had some level of promise, but the current group seems to have the least of all of them.

That may sound like a vote for blowing things up, but what would that entail? If the front office moves on from Horford, they have to accept it would be more so to clear up the frontcourt logjam than to receive equal value in return. The same applies to a potential Simmons trade—it may give Embiid more space, but you won’t get a Simmons-level talent back.

I’ve said this about Philly before, but there are no easy options here. And the pandemic only heightens the complications for a franchise that fashions itself a title contender. For now, the immediate future of the Sixers depends on if the front office wants to give the current group another shot, or use the truncated season to cut their losses.