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Kevin Durant blames the Sixers' revolving roster for Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons' struggles | Off the Dribble

Two seasons ago, the duo was surrounded by four sharpshooters in JJ Redick, Ersan Ilyasova, Marco Belinelli and Robert Covington. Back then, spacing wasn’t an issue for Simmons and Embiid.

The Sixers' Ben Simmons (25) talking with teammate Joel Embiid during a game against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Jan. 19, 2019.
The Sixers' Ben Simmons (25) talking with teammate Joel Embiid during a game against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Jan. 19, 2019.Read moreTim Tai / File Photograph

Happy Monday, folks.

Let’s make this the start of a productive and stress-free week. Just be glad that you’re not the 76ers owners, who are tasked with making several tough decisions. They’re evaluating their front office, and in the midst of a coaching search.

They’ll need to make the right decisions in both areas, considering poor drafts, bad free-agent signings, lack of accountability, and failure to make in-game adjustments.

The Sixers will definitely need a basketball mind in the front office to assist general manager Elton Brand. They’ll also need a coach with an NBA-championship pedigree.

You’re signed up to get this newsletter in your inbox every Monday. If you like what you’re reading, tell your friends it’s free to sign up here. I want to know what you think, what we should add, and what you want to read, so send me feedback by email or on Twitter @PompeyOnSixers. Thank you for reading.

— Keith Pompey (

How much blame goes on the Sixers?

Some have argued that the pairing of Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons has been a struggle. Critics say the two All-Stars can’t coexist and argue that the Sixers have progressively gotten worse over the duo’s three-year playing tenure together.

Brooklyn Nets standout Kevin Durant thinks he knows why the two have struggled together. He thinks it has to do with their revolving door of teammates over the years.

Durant expressed that recently on The Old Man and the Three podcast, cohosted by New Orleans Pelicans and former Sixers guard JJ Redick and Tommy Alter.

“It’s hard to become a great team when you’re getting new teammates every year,” said Durant, a former league MVP and two-time NBA champion. “It’s tough, especially young players like them, they’re expected [to shine] … and in Philly, they’ve got so many expectations on them, it’s tough.”

But as Embiid noted back in February, his pairing with Simmons was not a problem in the previous two seasons. A lot of that had to do with the presence of sharpshooter Redick, who helped create spacing.

Two seasons ago, the duo was complemented by four sharpshooters: Redick, Ersan Ilyasova, Marco Belinelli and Robert Covington. Back then, spacing wasn’t an issue for Simmons and Embiid. The Sixers finished the regular season at 52-30, concluding the campaign with 16 straight wins to set a league mark for the most consecutive victories to end a season.

The Sixers finished third in the Eastern Conference that season and were eliminated by the Boston Celtics in the second round of the postseason. They also finished third last season, posting a 51-31 record, before suffering another second-round exit, this time against the Toronto Raptors. This season, the Sixers (43-30) finished sixth while playing just 73 games because of the coronavirus pandemic. They were swept by the Celtics in the first round.

Starting five

  1. Mike D’Antoni leaves Houston Rockets, becomes Sixers coaching candidate. D’Antoni served five months as the Sixers' associate head coach during the 2015-16 season. The players loved him, and some were sad when he left for the Rockets job.

  2. David Murphy thinks the Sixers should be thinking bigger than Billy Donovan or Tyronn Lue in their coaching search. Two weeks after the Sixers parted ways with Brett Brown, we haven’t heard much hard information regarding their search for a replacement.

  3. Sixers coaching search: Clippers assistant Ty Lue remains best option to replace Brett Brown. Some might have overlooked Lue’s play-calling abilities because of the luxury of coaching LeBron James. But folks can’t deny he has the NBA-championship pedigree that the Sixers seek.

  4. Sixers have a lot of work to do that doesn’t involve replacing a coach. You can’t blame fired coach Brett Brown for the team’s reliance on analytics to make questionable draft picks, trades, and free-agent signings, which have set the franchise back.

  5. Murphy writes that Jimmy Butler’s playoff run with the Heat is another indictment of the Sixers organization. Butler carried the Heat to the Eastern Conference finals, making it possible to wonder why the Sixers couldn’t make it work with him.

Are Clippers showing their true colors?

Same ol' Los Angeles Clippers.

That’s what people are going to say if the Clippers lose to the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday night in Game 7 of their second-round playoff series.

The Clippers blew a commanding 3-1 series lead and are starting to resemble the squad that has never been able to get over the hump. Sunday, they surrendered a 16-point halftime cushion by being outscored by 29 points in the second half. The Nuggets prevailed, 111-98, as Los Angeles dropped to 0-7 in games in which they could clinch a trip to the Western Conference finals.

This season is supposed to different with the off-season acquisitions of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.

“It’s frustrating,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said of the loss. "Listen, when you decide to be coach, it’s not going to be roses every day.

“We clearly have the right formula as far as how we’re playing, and then we keep losing it.”

Passing the rock

Question: Is there a market for guys like Al Horford or Tobias Harris? Or does it look like an Alshon Jeffery situation? — @nineinchtails on Twitter

Answer: The Sixers could try to offer their first-round pick (No. 21) along with Horford’s salary (three years and $81 million remaining, with $69 million guaranteed) in a trade to get some type of flexibility. But at 34, Horford will be tough to move. They also will have a tough time moving the remaining $147.3 million over four years on Harris' contract. Harris has a trade kicker in his contract, too. I’m not saying that trades won’t happen, but the two will be tough to move.