76ers have nowhere to go but up

Philadelphia 76ers v Brooklyn Nets
Thaddeus Young, after the 76ers’ wheeling and dealing last week, is the longest-tenured Sixer on the roster. Credit: Getty Images

This was all part of the master plan.

When the Andrew Bynum acquisition blew up, it was time to break down the 76ers to the bare minimum.

It can only go up from here.

Just before the NBA trade deadline, the Sixers pulled off four separate trades – most notably with Spencer Hawes going to Cleveland and Evan Turner going to Indiana. The Sixers were left with a roster of extremely young players just trying to find their way.

In order to get better in this league, you need to hit bottom before ascending back to the playoffs. But it can happen rather quickly, which is the good news.

For now, the Sixers (15-42) are mired in an 11-game losing streak and were drubbed by the NBA-worst Milwaukee Bucks by 20 points Monday night.

The Sixers have two first-round draft picks and numerous second-round picks. Expect general manager Sam Hinkie to keep wheeling and dealing so this once-proud franchise can make it back to the playoffs.

In 1996, the Sixers drafted Allen Iverson with the No. 1 overall pick. They struggled in the short term but wound up with a string of five straight playoff appearances, culminating with a trip to the NBA Finals in 2001.

There’s hope.

“It’s very frustrating for now because you don’t know if you’re part of the future plans,” said forward Thaddeus Young, the longest-tenured player on the team. “All I can do is go out there, get better every day and try and help the young guys along. You just have to keep a positive attitude and keep pushing along and learning.”

Losing is frustrating. No player likes to endure losses on a consistent basis.

Since the team is so young, the guys in that locker room understand the situation. The first-year coach does as well.

“You just stay true to get to where you know you want to go,” Sixers coach Brett Brown said. “You can’t blink. We’ve had a lot of nights like this, haven’t we? You stay the course. You don’t blink.”

The inexperienced players, however, have a terrific opportunity. They know that.

“I’m happy to be here,” said center Henry Sims, who was acquired from Cleveland. “It’s a franchise with a lot of history. I have a chance to play and I’m going to give it everything that I’ve got. I take pride in playing hard and I’m very excited to be here with a chance to be part of the future.”

The Sixers need to get lucky in the lottery if they want to add a player such as Kansas’ Andrew Wiggins or Duke’s Jabari Parker. Nerlens Noel will be back at some point. The team is likely to add a veteran free agent.

The process is in motion. At least there’s a plan. That’s way better than the Bynum debacle.


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