The King of Mt. Airy – 02-24-17

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@MtAiryPhil

PHILADELPHIA, PA

In the end, Sixers’ boss Bryan Colangelo was stuck. The thought of waking up Friday the 24th with both Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor was just too heavy a burden. Who would face the fanbase and explain how this all went astray (again)? What message would it send to the players whom you’ve openly and very publicly shopped and showcased for the past month 76ers’ games?

That scenario, as horrific as it sounds to you and I, is exactly what Colangelo saw, and that’s the number one reason Nerlens Noel now plays for the Dallas Mavericks, Okafor remains a 76er, and this team STILL has a bagful of unanswered questions.

Let’s start with. That’s the best you could do? While Nerlens Noel has an expiring contract, it still allows the team who owns it to express a qualifying offer and match any potential free agent suitor that offers the (eye roll) Mavericks center. Then there’s this if that’s all you could get for Noel, and you felt that the better tender than any offer for Jahlil Okafor, we have the wrong leadership. Nothing could have driven Okafor’s trade value down further than the manner in which they handled the entire process. Colangelo, and to a slightly lesser extent, Brett Brown for his collusion on the whole insane circus, which culminated in Okafor being left off the team plane, and told a deal was imminent, then two days later flown halfway across the country because a deal was not. Jahlil Okafor has to take a hit here too. His lazy, disinterested approach to the defensive end of the NBA floor is a huge part of the reason teams weren’t knocking down the Sixers doors. Heartless at times, and blatantly invisible at most others, Okafor still possesses a huge set of offensive skills. Now the question is, does he grow a heart? Has the prospect of being traded lit any spark under a player one year removed from being the 3rd overall selection in the draft? Could be the Sixers just parked him until draft day, and with the prospect of Joel Embiid missing the next four games, they’ll allow him to display exactly why he is the player the 76ers chose not to move.

Back to the management though. They’re may not be a more mismanaged situation in any sports front office history. The debacle of the silly benchings, and banishment from the rotation of both Okafor and Noel was embarrassing to this franchise. The truth is too easy for Colangelo. He could have easily shaped this so that it appeared that he was moving Okafor only to free money to extend Noel. Instead, he drove the value of both players down through his inept and dopey press conferences where he played “I love you, I love you not” with both players over the past two months, and the openly and very publicly declared that Noel was the 76er who would stay, further burying any possibility of getting equal value for Jahlil Okafor.

Final question for the Sixers….

This REALLY the guy who is going to manage the assets you lost 200 games over the past three seasons to acquire?

Hit me up, Sixers fans. Even if you’re not a Sixer fan and just love basketball, I want to hear from you. Drop your COMMENTS below and find me on Twitter.

 

 

 

Saric Just What The Doctor Ordered – The View From Mt. Airy 8-10-16

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@MtAiryPhil

PHILADELPHIA, PA

Maybe you saw it. Maybe you didn’t.

Hey, you could have been one of the millions whose TV and attention was trained on the Olympic Air Rifle Finals. This was just a preliminary round basketball game between a Croatian team not targeted for Gold and a Spanish five we all know very well. But here in Philadelphia every eye was trained on Dario Saric, and to a lesser extent, new Sixers’ point guard Sergio Rodriguez.

It’s been two years since the 76ers’ trade on draft day of Elfrid Peyton to Orlando for the rights to Croatian forward Dario Saric as part of Sam Hinkie’s build for the future plan. He was described to Philadelphia basketball fans as one part Larry Bird, one part Dirk Nowitzki, and a little bit of Sixers all-timer Bobby Jones. Then the seemingly interminable wait began. Was he coming at all? Would he buy out that multi million dollar contract in Turkey to come in to the NBA and play for the slotted 1.3 million that comes with being the 12 pick in the draft, leaving millions on the table behind.

For two dreadful seasons, the 76ers faithful were teased as the team bottomed out, finishing the 2016 season with an abominable 10-72 record. The now rebellious 76ers’ fans began to see Saric as part and parcel of the problem, and just as much to blame for that disaster as those on the active roster, and an extension of the failure and embarrassment of the designed losing which grated horribly upon the psyche of a proud fan base as they endured record breaking losing including 27 consecutive losses that seemed to erase the memory of the franchise that was once so laden with Hall of Fame talent such as Charles Barkley, Allen Iverson, Andrew Toney, Maurice Cheeks and the legendary Doctor, Julius Winfield Erving.

The final 14 seconds versus Spain changed everything. Croatia led by a point after Saric made one of two free throws to give his side the lead. Spain sets up the final shot and it wasn’t a surprise to see them get the ball to 6-time NBA ALL STAR and 2-time NBA CHAMPION Pau Gasol. What was surprising was the anticipation, footwork and quickness of Dario Saric as he glided across the lane to reject Gasol and his jump hook at the buzzer preserving the win. Does that mean he’s NBA ready defensively or prepared to be a year one stopper? No. But it shows the intellect, instinct and desire that is coachable to the extent that you can expect Saric to be an immediately contributing rotation player. Combine that with the wealth of bigs and seeming scoring options that are currently on the young 76ers’ roster and you see the opportunities presented to Dario Saric as he embarks on his rookie season this fall. You could see it as he added 7 rebounds and 6 assists to the stat line versus Spain on an afternoon when his shot wasn’t falling (1-7 FG) for him, including a luscious no-look behind-the-back dish for a basket.

What the Doctor ordered on the last 76ers championship team was Bobby Jones. Long, lean sixth man, who left skin on every NBA hardwood and was able to run the floor, add a near double-double nightly, yet whose biggest contribution was always defensive energy and a dash of instincts and smarts that more than compensated for a big shot or flashy offense. Can Dario Saric be that player? I truly believe he can. Doc had Andrew, Moses, Mo and Bobby. Ben Simmons now has Jahlil Okafor, Joel Embiid, Sergio Rodriguez, Nerlens Noel, and now Dario Saric. Young and talented, with great expectations but all similarly unproven. But for one moment in Rio, Dario Saric was JUST what the Doctor ordered.
With the plethora of talent assembled in Philadelphia now, and the 76ers in possession of both the Sacramento Kings and Los Angeles Lakers first round picks in the 2017 NBA draft (both lottery bound and unprotected), Dario Saric just has to be coachable, competitive, and learn the NBA game as a cog in the future of the franchise. Being Bobby Jones would be more than enough.

That’s the View from high atop Mt. Airy…….