The Sixers, who raised NBA tanking to a new level during their “Trust the Process” years, got an assist this season from another tanking team, notes Ramona Shelburne of ESPN. The additions of Ersan Ilyasova and Marco Belinelli, who were both bought out by the Hawks, gave Philadelphia massive production off the bench in Saturday’s playoff opener.
Ilyasova posted 17 points and 14 rebounds, while Belinelli scored 25 points and was 4 of 7 from 3-point range. Although he drew interest from the Bucks, Cavaliers, Warriors and Raptors after his buyout, Ilyasova said it was an easy decision to come to Philadelphia.
“I think it’s all about fitting in the right situation,” he said. “Me and Marco, the way this team plays, we fit in perfectly in the system. … “When you look at the locker room and see the guys we have, obviously when [Joel Embiid] gets back, the sky’s the limit.”
There’s more today from Philadelphia:
- When it comes to trusting the process, no one had to do it more than coach Brett Brown, who amassed a historically bad won-loss record in his first few years on the bench, Shelburne adds in the same story. The former Spurs assistant, who was 55-253 heading into this season, said he never lost faith in what the organization was trying to accomplish. “For whatever reason, I have found peace with what we have been doing since I’ve had the job,” Brown said. “We have tried to stay steady throughout it all. And I hope I still do. I really mean that. You had to have a vision and a calling. But we want more. Ultimately, we’re trying to grow something that can produce a championship.”
- Co-managing partner Josh Harris also focused on winning a title in a chat with Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Harris called it “painful” to rebuild for three and a half years, but added that the organization never wavered from its plan. “I’m greedy,” he said. “I want to win an NBA championship. “I’m not going to be satisfied until that happens.”
- Former Sixers GM Sam Hinkie, credited as the architect of the tanking strategy, remains on good terms with the organization, according to Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today. “Sam is a smart guy,” Harris said. “He’s a great strategist, and he certainly positioned the team, as best he could, to achieve success through the rebuild process. He also brought in some good people who are still with us. We continue to have a good relationship with him. We’re glad he was a part of it.”