KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Joel Embiid’s nickname is “The Process.”
The 76ers drafted him during their version of “The Process,” which amounted to multiple seasons of tanking to acquire franchise players through the draft.
Those days are over now after the Sixers used their assets to give close to maximum-salary contracts to Tobias Harris and Al Horford. They drafted Embiid, a maximum-salary player, and Ben Simmons, who’ll receive a max deal beginning next season.
The Process was supposed to be a success. But one can argue the end result is a disaster after the Sixers were swept by the Boston Celtics in the first-round playoff series.
And the future doesn’t seem bright without roster changes. The Sixers could be a seventh-place team with more than $400 million tied up in Embiid, Simmons, Horford, and Harris over the next several seasons.
No one envisioned this type of ending after the 2017-18 season. The Sixers finished that regular season with a 52-30 record. They concluded it with 16 straight wins, setting a league mark for the most consecutive victories to end a season. That marked their first of three consecutive playoff appearances.
Philly went on to be eliminated by the Celtics in five games in the Eastern Conference semifinals. But with plenty of cap space and trade assets to lure A-list talent, they believed their future would be bright.
“I feel like a couple of years ago, when we made the playoffs for the first time, we had a bunch of great players that we drafted here or either formed in Philly,” Embiid said. “We had a bunch of guys that were definitely in a great situation.”
Back then, spacing on the court wasn’t a problem for Simmons and Embiid. The team had sharpshooting floor spacers in JJ Redick, Marco Belinelli, and Ersan Ilyasova.
“I felt like going into that playoffs we were just young,” Embiid said of the 2018 postseason. “And then we, as you said, we decided to trade a lot of it with the picks for Jimmy [Butler] and Tobias.
“We got a bunch of great players in return.”
The Sixers traded Butler to the Miami Heat in exchange for Josh Richardson.
Instead of being a contender, Philly finished sixth in the conference. It also struggled mightily on the road.
“It just didn’t happen,” Embiid said. “We could never find a rhythm this year. It is disappointing. There’s a lot of regrets. I felt like the focus was not always there.