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This season was a disaster, but the Sixers are very far from doomed

Taking stock.

NBA: New Orleans Pelicans at Philadelphia 76ers Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

When I was about 8 years old my parents bought me and my older brother a “kicker” ramp from Sam’s Club. If you came of age in the early 2000’s, attended an X-games event, and can beat Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1-4 in four days, you know exactly the one I’m talking about. If not, here’s a picture:

I immediately set the ramp up to jump the lawn on my bike. I also had the brilliant idea of performing a ‘No Hander’ — a move I had successfully completed dozens of times in Dave Mirra’s BMX 2 on PS2 — while executing the jump. I walked my bike a good distance away from the ramp, surely enough to clear the lawn. I hopped on the bike and took off toward the ramp. Once my front wheel cleared the lip of the ramp, I let go of the handlebars.

Then I crashed my chest into the handlebars as the bike hit the concrete, flipped over the front tire, and watched upside down as my own bike, without me, rode over my face. I started to dry heave and ran inside crying while my brother suffered a hernia from laughing at me so hard.

That’s the closest analogy I have for this Sixers’ season. Ill-advised, poorly planned, and sent home quickly. A total disaster.

All hope is lost...?

Joel Embiid has just wrapped up only the second season of his five-year deal, under contract through the 2022-23 season. Ben Simmons’ extension doesn’t kick in until next season, which means he’s locked in as a Sixer through his age-28 season in 2024-25. Tobias Harris is not producing at a rate that’s consistent with his salary and Elton Brand got fleeced, but Tobi is a legitimate starter who has more to offer than what he displayed in the bubble. Each passing season, his contract gets a bit more digestible. Along with Harris, Josh Richardson played out of position this season. A new coach with a new system could optimize Richardson, who by the way is on a team-friendly contract of about $11.6 million next season. Matisse Thybulle looks like a homerun pick from Elton Brand. Shake Milton has developed into a rotation piece on a ridiculously cheap contract that has a team option. The Sixers possess the 21st, 34th, 36th, 49th, and 58th picks in the upcoming NBA Draft. ARE THERE ANY ZHAIRE BELIEVERS OUT THERE? Okay, now I’m reaching.

The point is, the Sixers are still in solid shape. They can get themselves out of the basketball purgatory they’ve landed themselves in. It’ll take parting with assets or even young players. But as long as Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons are Philadelphia 76ers, the franchise has a core to win with or the means to build a better one.

There could be a revamped front office in town very soon, but Elton Brand is still at the controls — moving forward, maybe so with more control than he’s had to date. Can Elton and the ownership group learn from the mistakes they’ve made? Only time will tell. But the Sixers aren’t starting from ground zero and nothing short of a return to contention next season should be the goal.

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