No more epic losing streak. No more national attention.
The 16-57 Sixers can go back to their rebuilding plan and assume their roles with less scrutiny than they've been under the past couple weeks, as they tied -- but managed not to break -- the NBA's longest consecutive losing streak of 26 games.
Everyone was talking about it, except the players themselves. Head coach Brett Brown likewise insisted that it was not part of his thought process, so he didn't discuss it with the team.
“We chose a path when Sam [Hinkie] was hired,” Brown said after his Sixers won for the first time in two months on Saturday night (see story). “Some may agree with it. Some may not agree with it. We are not proclaiming this is the correct way to do it, but we are committed to the plan. And times like what we have just been through teach you a lot about different people.”
The “path” is to sell the farm and start over (see story). Evan Turner and Spencer Hawes -- two top-10 draft picks -- were replaced with NBA hopefuls previously earning paychecks in the D-League.
Apples were traded in for oranges, and while the organization is transparent about what it's doing, the plan itself still sparks debate.
Brown was clear Saturday night where he stands in that discussion.
“The exciting thing is we are building our own,” he stressed. “It doesn’t mean we have to experience something like we are going through now, but you are going to look on the floor and see some first-round draft picks, and a healthy Nerlens Noel, and a Rookie of the Year in Michael Carter-Williams, and you will see Thaddeus [Young] who has grown to be a leader.”
Carter-Williams and Young are known quantities, and hearing Brown talk specifically about Young being a part of the future is encouraging because youth alone cannot succeed. Experience and wisdom are must-have ingredients for winning.
The draft picks and Noel, on the other hand, are unknowns -- and Brown knows that.
“We have to get lucky with some ping pong balls,” Brown admitted. “We have to do our due diligence and get it right with draft picks. There is good fortune, and there is homework, and that is where programs make a right turn or a left turn.”
Brown and general manager Sam Hinkie sold a plan that required patience and -- amazingly -- fans accepted it with open arms. But the coach is not naive. The love isn't endless.
“I get the landscape and ultimately that license, that privilege, won’t be as extended as it is now,” Brown said. “I think the city believes that we have been transparent. We haven’t hidden anything. This is who we are. You may not agree with it, but this is our path. This is our plan. The city’s patience has been remarkable.”
The lottery isn't until May.
The draft itself isn't until June.
A crystal ball would really come in handy right about now.