Sixers can expect an offseason teeming with change

Posted: March 25, 2013

DENVER - What is the future of the 76ers now that we know Andrew Bynum needed surgery to repair not one, but both of his ailing knees? And just how repaired are they?

Bynum will be on crutches for the next 6 weeks, with rehab probably scheduled for many, many months after that. And then, will he/doctors/we know whether he is able to compete on the basketball court anywhere near the level he did last season with the Los Angeles Lakers?

Understandably, any talk of Bynum brings a roll of the eyes from Sixers fans, but right now, it is the lead question the organization faces as it looks to move forward. If ties are cut, then what? There could be somewhere around $15 million to spend on free agents, if the team so chooses, but there aren't a lot of big names out there. If the Sixers are told that Bynum, a free agent at the end of the season, can fully recover from his surgeries and play at a high level again, do they take a chance and try to resign him? Does Bynum even want to stay here?

How that all plays out will go a long way in deciding which direction the organization is going to move. But let's take a look at a few other areas of interest.

The coach

To his core, Doug Collins is an ultracompetitor. He lives his basketball life in a way few others can and, quite frankly, he can't understand others who don't have the same competitive nature he possesses. He lives and dies with every possession, every quarter, every game, every practice. He can break down a 24-second possession better than almost anyone on this planet - and often does. He holds on to bad losses longer than a jilted lover holds on to a demolished relationship.

It is the reason he came back to coaching, to try to appease that competitive spirit. As he said, analyzing games on television is great, but at the end of the game, there is no scoreboard to tell him whether he has won or lost. Having producers and directors praise him didn't quench his competitive thirst the way looking up at a scoreboard at the end of a game did.

There has always been talk of Collins being overbearing toward his players, a trait that might have cost him jobs in the past. Perhaps that was the case in Chicago, Detroit and Washington. It won't be the case here, because as long as Collins wants to coach this team, ownership will certainly have him.

You can question Collins' use of his players, or the players he brought in this summer. I have wondered all season about his use of Dorell Wright, for one. And there can be questions about plays called and defensive assignments and so on. Every coach can be second-guessed. That's all part of the job.

That said, I'm leaning toward Collins not coming back next season, because he cares too much.

He has often told his players have to let go of losses because they need to be ready to play the next game. But he has trouble following his own advice. Deep down, he wants his players to agonize as much as he does.

Former Sixer Bobby Jones once told me that he and Collins were roommates back in the day. Jones said he had to ask for another roomie because Collins would stay up nights after games pacing the hallways when others were trying to sleep. He hasn't changed much after 40 more years in the game.

Most likely, this organization is in rebuilding mode yet again. At 61 and with a very disappointing season about to end, the thinking here is that Collins won't be back to help. When he came here, he said he wanted to make this organization relevant again. Back in August, he helped do that. But two balky knees on a certain 7-footer curtailed all that.


The organization went after a huge star last summer, and the common thinking is that to compete a team must have at least one. But that is not always the case. Sometimes a good mesh of players is all that is needed to get wins and excite a city.

Take a look at the Denver Nuggets, who defeated the Sixers on Thursday for their 14th straight victory. They have Ty Lawson, a point guard who was taken in the middle of the first round of the 2009 draft (one pick after Jrue Holiday). Lawson is backed up by Andre Miller, one of the craftiest ever to play the position. In Andre Iguodala, Danilo Gallinari, JaVale McGee and Corey Brewer, the Nuggets have acquired a bunch of nice players who have found a way to play well together and, as of Friday, were 26 games above .500.

The key to the Nuggets is Kenneth Faried. Taken with the 22nd pick in the 2011 draft, Faried is an animal on the court who goes after rebounds with reckless abandon. He is a fan favorite at Pepsi Arena and he embraces that role. He is a player who not only gets the crowd into each and every home game, but inspires his teammates. At the professional level, it might not seem like a big deal, but it is. A player like Faried would give the Sixers a huge lift.

It will be a busy offseason for general manager Tony DiLeo and company, one that could include the search for a new coach, a decision to be made on Bynum, free agency and the draft. The Sixers probably won't make the splash they did last summer, but the results probably won't be as disappointing as they were this year, either.

They can't be, can they?


On Twitter: @BobCooney76


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