Entering this season, the Sixers had lost an incredible 37 consecutive regular-season games in October and November, having not won a single game in those months since back in 2013. At 0-3, the team is off to another slow start this season, but GM Bryan Colangelo tells Tom Moore of The Bucks County Courier Times there’s “no chance” Philadelphia will tank this season and look toward the future once again.
“We have obviously been set back by several key injuries so we have internally discussed strategies to address the deficiencies without veering too far off course,” Colangelo said.
The injury bug has certainly plagued the 76ers early on in 2016/17. First overall pick Ben Simmons is expected to be out for at least two or three months due to a broken foot; Nerlens Noel underwent a procedure on his left knee and will likely be sidelined until late November or December; and potential starting point guard Jerryd Bayless is battling a right hand injury that has prevented him from making his Sixers debut.
With Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor on minutes limits in the early going, it would be easy enough for the Sixers to continue to focus on developing prospects rather than trying to maximize their 2016/17 win total. And a general manager would never explicitly admit to “tanking” a season. However, Colangelo appears serious about addressing the team’s short-term needs.
Although the GM made his comments to Moore prior to Tuesday’s trade with the Thunder, that deal showed how the Sixers can attempt to mend the holes on this year’s roster without sacrificing the franchise’s long-term prospects. By sending Jerami Grant to the Thunder for Ersan Ilyasova and a future draft pick, the Sixers added a future asset and a veteran contributor in exchange for a player who didn’t really have a clear-cut role in Philadelphia. Moore notes that the Sixers wanted to add talent without sacrificing future cap flexibility, and Tuesday’s trade did just that, since Ilyasova is on an expiring contract.
While the Sixers likely still won’t be a playoff contender in the Eastern Conference this year, the Ilyasova acquisition suggests the team would still like to be as competitive as possible. With Embiid off to an impressive start, Philadelphia could be well-positioned to win some games in the second half of the season if Simmons and Noel get healthy.