This is the 27th edition of the weekly 76ers mailbag.
Each week, Inquirer.com followers may submit questions to be answered.
Missed out on the party this week? No worries. Submit question(s) for next time by following me on Twitter @PompeyOnSixers and tweeting your inquiry with the hashtag #PompeysMailbagFlow.
Question: How many Sixers play as hard as Toronto Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry? — @Johnquinn83
Answer: What’s up, boss? I hope you and the family are doing well. They do a have a few players who play as hard as him. Josh Richardson is the first player that comes to my mind when we’re talking about battling for 48 minutes. Richardson and the others just don’t have the resumes or make the same impact of the former Cardinal Dougherty High School and Villanova standout. But I can’t help but wonder what Lowry, a six-time All-Star and Olympic gold medalist, would have been like playing for his hometown team.
The North Philly native became a free agent in July, 2017. The Sixers should have gone after him. That never happened. The coaching staff had a meeting about free-agent candidates. According to multiple sources, only 1½ of the 12 coaches in the room were in favor of signing Lowry. Head coach Brett Brown wasn’t in favor of signing him. According to a source, there were concerns about coaching someone with Lowry’s brash, tell-it-like-it-is personality.
Fast forward to this week, and you’re asking if the Sixers have someone who plays as hard as him. Re-signing with the Raptors worked out well for Lowry, who helped to lead Toronto to its only NBA title last season. But one has wonder how his grit, will to win and high basketball IQ would have meshed with the Sixers.
Q: Do the Sixers REALLY want to win? — @Johnquinn83
A: Oh. it’s you, again? What is this Ask Pompey a Question Day? Only kidding. You should know that I enjoy our dialogues. This is a great question, too.
I believe they do want to win. I just think the core players, outside of perhaps Al Horford and Richardson, are still trying to grasp what it takes to win in the postseason. That’s not a knock on their teammates. It’s just a fact.
Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons are products of “The Process”, where losing was part of the plan early on. Their statuses were determined by individual accomplishments - not deep playoff runs or team accomplishments. Meanwhile, Harris had only made one postseason appearance while playing on four different teams in his first seven NBA seasons. And that appearance ended with his Detroit Pistons being swept by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round of the 2016 Eastern Conference playoffs.
Horford, however, has played in three Eastern Conference Finals, one as an Atlanta Hawk (2015) and two with the Boston Celtics (2017 and 2018). He lost to the LeBron James-led Cavs in all those conference finals. Meanwhile, Richardson comes from the Miami Heat winning culture.
But they’re not the faces on the franchise. That’s why it’s imperative for the Sixers' next coach to be someone capable to changing the culture and with an NBA title pedigree.
Q: Is Billy Donovan a good candidate because he could perhaps bring the best out of Ben like he did with MVP Russell Westbrook? Also, he coached Al at Florida and another possible point guard from OKC in Chris Paul we may get in a trade this off-season — @J_Swag16
A: Good question, J.A. It’s one that’s actually tough to answer. Here’s why. One could argue that Russell Westbrook became the MVP due to no longer having to share the spotlight in Oklahoma City with Kevin Durant. It became Westbrook’s show and would have been his show no matter who the coach was. As good as Westbrook was, he had to take a backseat to Durant. But Westbrook’s scoring average went from 23..5 points to 31.6 points the first season (2016-17) without Durant. The point guard also averaged 10.3 assists and 10.1 rebounds due to having more opportunities.
Right now, the Sixers are Embiid’s team. The offense goes through him. So regardless of who the coach is, Simmons' role will be similar to what Westbrook was before Durant left for the Golden State Warriors.
I do think Donovan having coached Horford in college and Paul this past season would be a bonus, assuming Horford remains and the Sixers somehow acquire Paul.
Q: Why haven’t the Sixers re-structured their front office? With five picks in the next draft, they can’t afford to have the previous cast of characters and hanger-ons — @PhillyDazz
A: What’s up, Dazz? This is probably the most-asked question not pertaining to the coaching search. I would be shocked if the re-structuring doesn’t happen even though it is taking longer than some have expected.
As a I wrote earlier this week, executive vice president of basketball operations Alex Rucker isn’t expected to be back next season. Brand has received a lot of criticism for the Sixers' shortcomings and poor decisions. However, Rucker has been heavily involved behind the scenes in a lot of the decision-making, according to sources.
Time will tell who the Sixers opt to let go, or will re-assign in their front office. But a change is definitely coming.
Q: Why do the Sixers have so much trouble getting it right? Is it ownership not showing enough interest? Is it the general manager and his lack of experience or surrounding himself with the wrong people, or it is coaching? (Seems that they’ll bring in new coaches, but get the same results)— @DavidBe52454020
A: Thanks for the question, David. You have to pin this one on the ownership group. I’m saying that while disagreeing with that question about it not showing enough interest. I think the ownership may have been a little too hands on and had too many voices in the room making decisions. Think back to when Elton Brand was hired as general manager. The Sixers picked him over more experienced candidates because they wanted a GM willing to be a part of a collaborative decision-making process. I also think the ownership relied too much on analytics and didn’t hire enough basketball minds in the front office.
Things can get better if that approach changes.