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Sixers owner says lows will eventually bring about some highs

Josh Harris calls 19-63 season a 'huge success,' because it will eventually move team toward elite status.

Sixers owner Josh Harris answers questions from the media at the Sixers practice facility at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. (Elizabeth Robertson/Staff Photographer)
Sixers owner Josh Harris answers questions from the media at the Sixers practice facility at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. (Elizabeth Robertson/Staff Photographer)Read more

EXPECTED and accepted.

While a 19-63 season wouldn't seem to be either one of those two things to an NBA team owner, 76ers proprietor Josh Harris understands the season that ended Wednesday.

In a news conference yesterday afternoon, Harris acknowledged that losing as much as his team did this season was tough, but said it was the necessary evil that needed to happen to get where the organization wants to be - contending for an NBA championship.

"I think the season has been a huge success for us," Harris said. "I don't like to lose. In terms of having to live through a losing season, it's tough. It was incredibly fun to take down the Bulls [in the playoffs] my first year. That was a lot of fun. I want this team back in the playoffs and competing for a championship. That's kind of what we're trying to do. But to get to that point where you're an elite team for a long time, there are no shortcuts.

"We came into the season knowing that it would be a long season, and we were going to be putting building blocks in place. Michael Carter-Williams will hopefully be rookie of the year, so we used our pick to draft the rookie of the year, and he was the 11th pick. Nerlens [Noel], we rested all year and he's recovered [from a knee injury], so, hopefully, he'll be playing next year. We're happy with his progress. We have two first-round picks, five second-round picks and a lot of cap space.

"I feel like in terms of what we were trying to accomplish, we accomplished a lot in Year 1. Brett [Brown] is exceeding in expectations.

"All the things we've done is just putting the pieces in place to make this an elite team that will compete consistently for the NBA championship. Unfortunately, it takes a long time. I sleep better when I have a great management team in place. Between Scott O'Neil and Sam Hinkie and Brett Brown, along wth all the other people that we added, we have an elite team."

Brown said numerous times during the season that for this to become an elite organization, it needs a practice facility it can call its own. The Sixers are the only NBA team that doesn't have its own site; it basically rents from Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.

"There's multiple sites that we're looking at and hope to announce something this summer," Harris said. "Like everything else we do, we're trying to do it in the right way for the long run. Realistically, once we announce the site, it's going to take a couple of years to put it up appropriately. It will probably open for the third season from now. You want to create an environment that is world-class, so that's why it is taking longer. There are sites both inside and outside of the city."

The immediate project is the draft. The draft order will be decided on May 20, when the lottery pingpong balls will be either helpful or disastrous for the Sixers. No matter where their two first-round picks fall, it is imperative they hit grand slams with both the selections.

"It's really important," Harris acknowledged. "There's a lot of work being done behind the scenes right now on who it's going to be, and lots of testing and thought process and analytics. This is where what they do has the most impact. The preparation that is going to occur from here to the draft is going to be very, very significant amount of preparation. We're going to be working really hard.

"We're going to have to continue to pursue our strategy. In the NBA, you win if you have two to four elite players. We have been very transparent, and Sam has said - be a star and help me get one. I hate to be blunt, but we're going to look for elite players that can continue to help us and/or build assets over time. We're going to continue to build the front-office team, continue to expand a player-development coaching staff and use the summer to continue to develop players.

"We want to be an elite team competing for the championship as soon as possible. I hate to be non-specific, but I don't think there are any shortcuts. It's really a question of when you can draft elite players or when you can trade for elite players or when you can pick them up in free agency. It's about being very opportunistic and capturing opportunities as quickly as they become available.

"Clearly the draft, when you're starting and really putting in place the building blocks, the draft is something that you control. We know what our picks are this year. Certainly, we'll have choices to make.

"Free agency and trades, there are other parties involved. Those are less predictable. But those are on the table for us all the time."

Moving forward, clearly the only thing expected and accepted by Harris will be owning an elite franchise.

MCW honored again

Michael Carter-Williams was named NBA rookie of the month for April, his fourth such honor of the six given out this season.

MCW led all rookies in scoring (17.6), was third in rebounding (7.5), fourth in assists and fifth in field goal percentage (.525).