By now we all know that the Philadelphia 76ers have chosen the path of least resistance this season, in hopes that the pile of losses which are bound to accumulate result in the highest of draft picks at the end of the year.
The strategy has been used by teams to varying degrees, but never has one been so brazen and honest about its plan to choose to rebuild in this way.
Owners around the league found it so distasteful that they initiated a vote on Draft Lottery reform, and while the proposed new policy was shot down this time, it’s virtually guaranteed that the league will be pursuing other options for change in order to make what the Sixers are doing far less desirable.
Because everyone is well aware that the Sixers are fine with losing this season, it makes the way those losses happen come under additional scrutiny.
One night after Philadelphia lost to Dallas by a whopping 53 points, the team found itself in a battle with the Rockets in Houston that was winnable in the game’s final few possessions. The Sixers held a three-point lead with 35.5 seconds remaining, though James Harden was headed to the free throw line to try and make it a one-point game after being fouled on a fast break.
Brett Brown either didn’t like the call, or thought his player was fouled on the steal that led to Harden’s breakaway in transition. His response was to kick the ball in the referee’s direction after the foul was called, which resulted in an automatic technical foul that awarded Houston an additional free throw, which gave them the chance to tie it while the clock was stopped.
“I deserved it,” Brown said of the technical afterward, via Philly.com. “I lost some composure, and I wasn’t sure about the foul. I was almost trying to kick it back to the ref.”
Of course he did; that much is certain. But what’s far less clear is whether or not Brown did this intentionally to further his team’s tanking initiative.
Actually, that’s not really true; as we’ve discussed in great detail, players and coaches are never involved in an organization’s tanking process.
But the way Philadelphia is going about its business, some will always wonder if there’s an ulterior motive in play in situations like these.