76ers

Josh Harris stands by Sixers' rebuilding formula

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Josh Harris stands by Sixers' rebuilding formula

GALLOWAY, N.J. -- Sixers managing owner Josh Harris annually attends a day of training camp and this year he showed up Friday.

Harris could be seen talking to head coach Brett Brown and first-round pick Joel Embiid at the conclusion of practice, two important people when it comes to the future success of his franchise.

The future is exactly where the organization’s focus remains. With 19 wins a season ago and an offseason full of inexperienced and inexpensive additions, Harris is still not deterred from the ultimate goal.

"Philly is tired of being mediocre," Harris said. "The last NBA championship team was obviously in 1983. Then you had the Allen Iverson championship run, but that was over a decade ago. I think Philly wants a team that is competing for an NBA championship.

"We have told everyone there are 29 other owners that want the same for their city, and we have explained our strategy clearly to Philly, and I feel like it is 90 percent positive."

The 29 other NBA owners may want the same thing Harris wants, but the method of achieving that goal is very different.

At the league meetings this past July, there was a strong push from the owners for draft lottery reform as early as next June.

The Sixers, who have two first-round picks in 2015, object to the lottery system changing.

"We are advocating positions that benefit the Philadelphia market and the Philadelphia 76ers," Harris said. "That is what we should be doing. Other people are advocating their market, and it is the league's job to sort through how to best build consensus around those different positions."

Harris chose his words carefully because the Sixers' plan has touched a nerve with a number of his peers across the league.

"Being a good citizen in the NBA is an important thing for us," Harris said. "We are cognizant of being a good member of the league. At the same time, we are balancing that against what is the right thing for the Philadelphia 76ers. We are trying to draw that line as best we can.

"You are competing, so there is always going to be different views on different strategies teams are taking. We certainly factor that into our thinking, but at the end of the day we try to take in the whole picture and do what is right for Philly."

Harris believes even if the system changes as early as 2015, the league will make the changes incremental and, therefore, the impact won't be too great.

"A change would certainly flatten the lottery system," Harris said. "It would be a little bit worse for Philadelphia in the short run, but long run, since we expect to be a deep playoff-caliber team, it is actually better for us."

NBA stars taking notice of Sixers' rise

NBA stars taking notice of Sixers' rise

The Sixers have been rising steadily in the standings and players around the league are taking notice. 

The young squad improved to 31-25 with a victory over the Bulls Thursday. They have won six straight and have not lost at the Wells Fargo Center in 2018. That totals up to the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference, only two games behind the Wizards for the fourth spot and two games ahead of the Heat for the eighth. 

"I like them," Timberwolves guard Jimmy Butler said at the All-Star break. "They've got a lot of great young talent. We do as well. But I think the way that they're going and how they play so hard and play so together, that's how you win basketball games. They're going to be really, really good for a long time."

The Sixers turned heads with a statement win over the Rockets in only their seventh game of the season. From there, they have defeated playoff teams, including a rare sweep of the Spurs, while struggling against sub.-500 opponents. 

They have 26 games remaining to make a postseason push. Of their upcoming opponents, only 10 games are against current top-eight teams in their conferences. Brett Brown has emphasized they can't take any team lightly. This is the time for the Sixers to maximize their schedule and show they learned from previous letdowns.

"They look good," Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard said. "Obviously as a young team, it takes time to learn how to win. ... The mature, really high-level teams, they find a way to get it done. I think for them, that's what their record shows. You play against them and it's hard to play against them. 

"They're really talented, they play hard, they play for a great coach. It's just those nights where you might not have it, having that understanding and that experience that'll lead you to more wins. I think once they get to that point, that's when maybe nine or 10 games that they've let slip, maybe they win those games."

The Sixers wrapped up the majority of their Western Conference schedule prior to the All-Star break. They have only the Timberwolves, Nuggets and Mavericks left to play. Those in the conference still are keeping an eye on the Sixers' progress, even if they may not face off again for months. 

"Everyone definitely sees the talent there," Warriors guard Klay Thompson said. "Any time you've got Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid to build around, they've got a very bright future. I think everyone had very high expectations, but it's hard to have high expectations with a team that's got a lot of first-, second-year guys that have never been in the playoffs. 

"But you can tell that they're going to be in the playoffs for, shoot, the next decade or so, probably be upper echelon pretty soon."

Leave the NBA playoffs alone

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USA Today Images

Leave the NBA playoffs alone

You can't kill NBA commissioner Adam Silver for trying.

Last week, Silver announced to the media during All-Star weekend in Los Angeles that he's considering a change to the playoffs, where rather than the top eight seeds in each conference competing to determine a conference champ, playoff teams will be seeded 1 through 16.

More recently, ESPN reported that the league is kicking around a "play-in tournament" to determine the final two seeds in each conference.

Let's take these ideas one at a time:

Re-seeding the postseason may sound fun, and even kind of fair, but it completely dissolves conference rivalries that the league has celebrated for decades. Looking for the Warriors and Rockets in the Western Conference Finals? Sorry. Under the new format, there would be no more West Finals. Right now, those are the two best teams in the NBA. So you might see them in the Finals in that format — if they both get that far.

I could understand this argument in years when the disparity in balance of power is egregious. That's not the case this season. If the NBA season ended today, one team would reap the benefits of a 1-16 playoff format: the 9-seed in the West, the Clippers, who are a half-game better than Eastern Conference 8-seed Miami.

(Psst, right now the 5-12 matchup in a 1-16 format would be Sixers-Cavaliers. But let's stay on topic.)

As for the play-in tournament, this completely contradicts the re-seeding idea. The NBA wants the best teams in the playoffs, right? Is a Pistons-Hornets play-in game must-see TV? Or what's left of the Clippers vs. the Jazz?

And how long do you want the postseason to be? Last season, the playoffs lasted nearly nine weeks. It was only that "brief" because the Finals didn't go the full seven games. Adding another round could extend the NBA season into July (unless it corresponds with a shortening of the schedule). We have seen what happens in Olympic years when players don't get enough offseason rest and it ain't pretty.

I'm guessing this is a backhanded way for Silver to keep more teams from tanking for better draft picks. "Hey, you may be 11th in the conference, but you're one 3-game win streak away from a shot at the postseason!!"

I'm all for change, but in the case of the NBA playoffs, commish, I think we're good for now.