Getty Images

76ers in danger of matching worst record in NBA history

5 Comments

PHILADELPHIA (AP) The Philadelphia 76ers are on a PR blitz trying to win fans’ patience since they are unable to win on the court.

General manager Sam Hinkie – needing something to do with Jerry Colangelo now calling the shots – filmed a spot for the latest promotional video released Thursday that made it seem like he was stumping for votes on the campaign trail. Wearing a hard hat at the eventual site of their new team headquarters, Hinkie’s voiceover says the team is moving “into a building that will embody a lot of the values important to us.”

Hinkie and the 76ers even have a catchy campaign slogan: “Trust the Process.”

The fans the organization is trying to woo could easily shoot back with a motto of their own: Win Some Games.

Year 3 of – Tanking? Rebuilding? You pick the side – is the worst one yet under owner Josh Harris, Hinkie and coach Brett Brown.

Worst of the NBA season? Well, yeah, that was inevitable in training camp. Worst of all time? Getting close.

The Sixers are 9-66 entering Friday’s game at Charlotte, in danger of matching the worst 82-game record in NBA history. Should the Sixers lose their final seven games, they will finish at 9-73, tying the miserable mark set by – spoiler alert! – the Philadelphia 76ers in the 1972-73 season.

The Sixers have lost 10 straight games and would finish on a 17-game losing streak should they fail to put another “W” in the column.

Under Brown, the Sixers have at one point lost both 26 and 28 straight games, the latter the longest losing streak in the history of pro sports.

Allen Iverson, expected to be named to the Hall of Fame on Monday, once railed against practice but is now preaching another p-word: patience.

“I think in Philadelphia, real fans, you’ve got to be patient and understand how young these guys are and know that the potential is there,” Iverson said. “The talent is there, they’re just young, bro. We’ve got to give them a chance.”

The dysfunctional Los Angeles Lakers are the next closest in the worst-of-the-worst teams with 16 wins.

The biggest win of the season just might come in the draft lottery, where this avalanche of defeats has the Sixers positioned to win the No. 1 pick.

But losing has come at a price, even for the greatest players in franchise history.

“If you’re great here, you’re a legend,” Hinkie says in the video. “Wilt. Allen. Charles. You don’t need a second name.”

Sometimes, the legends don’t need a first one. Like Dr. J.

Julius Erving, the Hall of Famer who starred on the 76ers’ last title team in 1983, is tired of watching the franchise founder at the bottom of the NBA.

“It hurts to see the franchise down,” Erving said. “We want to be associated with a winning team. We’ve got to take crap from other retired players from teams that are winning right now. Then we have to remind them how we used to beat up on them in our day. It’s a little bit back and forth. There’s bragging rights. We’d like for the Sixers to help us get some bragging rights.”

There are the infamous kind of bragging rights, as well.

Fred Carter, who played on that 1972-73 Sixers team and would coach the team in the 1990s, said this year’s team is worse than the 70s edition because of how open the franchise has been about the plan to hit bottom. Carter said his Sixers were not built for losing; it just sort of happened.

Carter wants the Sixers to win at least one more game so the `73 team will continue to hold the dubious mark.

“Sunday, I’ll go to Mass. Sunday, I’ll light an extra candle for them,” he said, laughing. “I don’t know if I’ll be lighting a candle for them or lighting one for me, but I will light one. It’s better to be remembered than not remembered at all.”

This season’s Sixers would rather not go down as the worst of all time.

“Most of the games we’re in, we’ve been able to put up a game,” forward Nerlens Noel said.

So, can a team that had Christian Wood, Sonny Weems and even Elton Brand suit up this season avoid a single-digit victory season?

Let’s take a look:

– Friday, at Charlotte: The Hornets lead the series 3-0 and just thumped the Sixers 100-85 on Tuesday.

– Saturday, vs. Pacers: The Pacers lead the series 2-0 and will play the Sixers on the second night of back-to-backs.

– Tuesday, vs. New Orleans: “Ahhh, that’s their 10!” Carter said. “They shut down Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday. That’ll get them 10.”

Carter might be right. The woeful Pelicans (27-47) won in their only other meeting but have benched their injured stars for the season, meaning this could be Philly’s best shot at the 10th win.

– Friday, April 8, vs New York: Pro: It’s the Knicks. Con: New York leads the series 3-0.

Then it’s games against the Bucks, Raptors and Bulls, teams that are a combined 8-0 vs. the 76ers this season.

There could be hope in the franchise’s bloodlines – four seasons after the nine-win team, the 76ers reached the NBA Finals and they won it all 10 years later.

Can they find that franchise savior in the draft?

“Allen Iverson ain’t walking through the door,” Iverson said.

And the suffering continues.

This story has been corrected to show that the Sixers’ remaining games are in April, not March.

John Beilein joining sad ranks of coaches whose NBA careers lasted less than season

Cavaliers coach John Beilein
David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Three coaches have begun their NBA head-coaching careers (non-interim) after turning 60.

John Beilein lasted the longest.

Beilein is resigning as Cavaliers coach stunningly quick, quitting after just 54 games.

But his tenure was still longer than Dave MacMillan’s with the 1949-50 Tri-Cities Blackhawks (23 games) and Jerry Tarkanian’s with the 1992-93 Spurs (20 games).

Considering his age (67), numerous problems in Cleveland and how he’s leaving, Beilein will almost certainly never coach in the NBA again. Maybe he’ll retire. Maybe he’ll return to college basketball. But the door to coaching in the NBA appears closed.

That’ll put Beilein on the unfortunate list of coaches whose non-interim NBA head-coaching careers lasted less than a full season:

Seasons are listed by end year. Coaches who took over in-season and were retained the following season are counted if their total games were fewer than a full-season’s worth. Not counted: Coaches who, back in the early days of this league, guided their teams in a previous league for longer.

Coach Year Team W L
John Beilein 2020 CLE 14 40
Randy Ayers 2004 PHI 21 31
Gar Heard 2000 WAS 14 30
Jerry Tarkanian 1993 SAS 9 11
Morris McHone 1984 SAS 11 20
Don Delaney 1981-1982 CLE 7 19
Tom Sanders 1978-1979 BOS 23 39
Bob Hopkins 1978 SEA 5 17
Tates Locke 1977 BUF 16 30
Roy Rubin 1973 PHI 4 47
Earl Lloyd 1972-1973 DET 22 55
Mike Farmer 1967 BAL 1 8
Andy Phillip 1959 STL 6 4
George Mikan 1958 MNL 9 30
Chick Reiser 1952-1953 BLB 8 22
Fred Scolari 1952 BLB 12 27
Dave McMillan 1951 TRI 9 14
Howie Schultz 1950 AND 21 14
Roger Potter 1950 TRI 1 6
Albert Soar 1948 PRO 2 17
Dutch Dehnert 1947 CLR 17 20
Glenn Curtis 1947 DTF 12 22
Ed Sadowski 1947 TRH 3 9

Report: Cavaliers players played songs like ‘Thuggish Ruggish Bone’ around John Beilein

Cavaliers coach John Beilein
David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images
Leave a comment

While coaching the Cavaliers, John Beilein called his players “thugs.” He said it was a simple case of mispronouncing the word “slugs” while speaking too quickly.

Of the six Cleveland players who publicly addressed the issue the following day, only Tristan Thompson didn’t offer clear support of his coach. The Cavs kept Beilein.

But with Beilein resigning, a fuller picture is emerging.

Shams Charania, Jason Lloyd and Joe Vardon of The Athletic:

a number of the players never really embraced his explanation. In fact, some of them thought it was an insult to their intelligence, one player told The Athletic.

“There was no coming back from that,” he said.

Instead, multiple players began playing songs that included the word “thug” whenever Beilein was within earshot, sources said: Bone Thugz-n-Harmony’s “Thuggish Ruggish Bone” and Tupac’s “Thugz Mansion” among them. As the team boarded the bus a few days after the incident, one player was intentionally playing Trick Daddy’s “I’m a Thug” with Beilein a few feet away. Other players blasted songs with the word “thug” loudly during workouts in the facility. Players did this to make light of a very tough situation, according to one team source.

“The worst part to me was not owning that he said it,” one player told The Athletic.

If they didn’t sing the lyrics as:

  • “It’s the Sluggish Ruggish Bone”
  • “So right before I sleep, dear God, what I’m askin’ / Remember this face, save me a place, in slug’s mansion”
  • “Baby, ‘cause I’m a slug”

…they did it wrong.

For what it’s worth, Beilein did own that he said “thugs.” He just claimed he meant to say “slugs.”

Want to question which word he intended to use? Suspicious about what in his mind led “thugs” to come out even if he meant to say “slugs”? That’s totally fair.

But either “slugs” or “thugs” was entirely plausible in that context. Nobody outside Beilein can know what he was thinking.

Cavaliers players just didn’t want to give benefit of the doubt to a coach they already loathed. I wouldn’t be surprised if some within the organization showed faux outrage about thugs-slugs just because they wanted Beilein gone.

The NBA has levels of pettiness Beilein never experienced in college. It can be jarring, and Beilein seemingly never got comfortable at this level. Put another way:

Slug passion got you tremblin’ like Death on the Row

Rumor: The Cavaliers might try to flip Andre Drummond in trade at draft, or in July

Jason Miller/Getty Images
Leave a comment

When J.B. Bickerstaff takes over as the new coach in Cleveland today, he will inherit a big, slow frontcourt of Kevin Love and Andre Drummond that will make a combined $60 million next season.

Will he still have that frontcourt when training camp opens next fall?

We know the Cavaliers tried to trade Love at the deadline but the remaining three years, $91 million on his contract after this season made that difficult. Instead, Cleveland surprised the league when it added Drummond at the trade deadline.

Now comes a rumor from Greg Swartz at Bleacher Report where an anonymous former GM says he thinks once Drummond picks up the $28.8 million option on his contract — something expected around the league — the Cavs will try to trade him, too.

“I don’t think [Drummond and the Cavs] will last long,” one former NBA general manager said. “I could see them trading him to a team this summer if he agrees to pick up his option. They could also do a sign-and-trade if he agrees to a new long-term deal. I don’t think he’ll be in Cleveland for long.”

For the record, the Cavaliers deny that is the case. GM Koby Altman said as much.

“Absolutely, we consider him a potential long-term play,” Altman said. “Obviously, he has a player option that if he picks up, we think we’re in good shape in terms of our cap space. There’s no better money spent than on Andre Drummond if he picks up his option.”

There could be interest in Drummond as an expiring contract next season because teams are trying to clear up cap space for a deep summer of 2021 free agent class (particularly if Giannis Antetokounmpo does not sign the $254 million supermax contract the Bucks will offer this summer). There may be teams interested in the 26-year-old Drummond longer term — he is averaging 17.7 points and 15.8 rebounds a game as a traditional big — just not at anywhere near his current salary.

Expect a lot of Cavaliers trade rumors around the draft and into July as they try to add talent. Don’t be surprised if Drummond is in some of those rumors; the Cavaliers should explore everything.

Also, don’t be surprised if Love and Drummond are the starting 4/5 for the Cavaliers when the season tips off next October.

 

Counter-report: John Beilein will receive some of remaining salary from Cavaliers

Cavaliers coach John Beilein
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Initial reporting suggested John Beilein will walk away from the rest of his contract with the Cavaliers.

But apparently he’ll get a payout.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Beilein and the Cavaliers negotiated a financial settlement that will pay him a portion of the remaining money on his 2019-20 contract, league sources said. He left the University of Michigan and signed a five-year contract with Cleveland that included a team option for the final season, a deal that paid him more than $4 million a season, league sources said.

That doesn’t sound like a substantial settlement (relatively).

But Beilein had some leverage. Because he did so poorly, it seemed the Cavs might just fire him at the end of the season. While it appears to be his choice to walk away now, everyone seemed ready to move on soon enough.

There could have been more of a fired-or-quit standoff. But Beilein was so done, he left a lot of money on the table. That’s still the story, even if he’ll walk away with some.