It has to be discouraging to players already in place on a team’s roster to see it essentially gutted and left with mostly rookies and minimum salary players in advance of the upcoming season.
That’s what Sixers guard Evan Turner is going through this summer.
After starting all 82 games for Philadelphia last year alongside All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday, Turner has seen his backcourt mate traded and his head coach replaced, without anything close to tangible improvement being made anywhere else on the roster.
The Sixers are projected to be near the bottom of the league-wide standings next year, and Turner, entering his fourth NBA season with the club, is rightfully concerned about his future role and what direction the team may be headed.
New head coach Brett Brown tried to assure Turner that winning is indeed the priority, despite such a rocky offseason.
During an interview at his Evan Turner Basketball ProCamp on Saturday at New Hope-Solebury High School, Turner said he doesn’t subscribe to that point of view. And, based on his Friday night telephone conversation with new coach Brett Brown, Brown doesn’t, either.
“I told him, ‘Everybody wants to be in tank mode and thinks we’re going to lose. I intend on trying to win as much as possible because losing’s too easy,’ ” Turner said. “He said, ‘Well, they got the wrong coach if we’re going to go out and lose on purpose. We want to compete and get better.’ ”
One thing that’s important to note anytime the subject of tanking comes up is that if teams decide to go into a rebuilding mode — which will inevitably result in plenty of losses that will translate into a potentially high draft pick — that decision is one that’s made at the organizational level.
Players and coaches simply are not wired to play at half speed or attempt strategies which would result in losing games on purpose.
What can happen, though, is the front office instructing the head coach to give younger players who need to develop more minutes than the ones who are clearly the team’s best.
Not playing the players who will give the team its best chance to win is tanking by its very definition, and while Brown can assure Turner he’s trying to compete, he may be forced by management to do so at some point without his most talented guys.