Kevin Durant's decision to spurn the team that drafted him, molded him and nearly won an NBA title with him can't have any effect on the middling, rebuilding 76ers — can it?
Philly is going all in on their No. 1 pick Ben Simmons, hoping he is the NBA's next superstar and that they can mold a team around him that will eventually yield success.
Much of this success, aside from that which lies on the actual potency of Simmons as an NBA star, lies on both the Sixers' front office and their trio of big men: Joel Embiid, Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor.
Simmons signed his rookie contract last week and will be under team control until the end of the 2019-20 season, when he will become a restricted free agent. Assuming his performance merits another contract, the Sixers maintain control with the right to match any offer sheet he signs.
By the time he is Durant's age, it will be near 2023. Will the Sixers win a title by then?
If not, the precedent has been set for Simmons to join forces with Karl Anthony-Towns, Andrew Wiggins and perhaps a 39-year-old LeBron James to chase a title elsewhere. It's superteam or bust.
This may seem like a long look into the future, and with a new CBA on the horizon who knows how contracts will look eight seasons from now. But one thing certainly is for sure — if the Sixers hit on Simmons as a superstar, they had better take advantage while he's here.
Philly will also have its hands full, once the team reaches competitiveness, matching up against emerging superteams like the Warriors and Cavaliers. The anticipated continued success of these star-studded squads will only add to Simmons' desire to play for a team that has enough firepower to win a title.
With the news that one-time All Star forward David West is joining Durant (and Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Andre Iguadala and others) to chase a ring in Golden State, it seems like the competitive balance will make it more or less pivotal that Simmons and at least one of Philly's big men wind up as All-NBA caliber players.
Otherwise the Sam Hinkie era will be thwarted by the ever-growing threat of superteams and the consolidating power of a few NBA players who pretty much control the fates of every other team in the league.