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June 28, 2024

The Sixers and Eagles are tales of two different offseason approaches

Eytan Shander says that one team knows what it's doing, in contrast to one that has no idea.

Eagles Sixers
Daryl-Morey-NBA-Trade-Deadline Bill Streicher/USA Today Sports

What will Sixers President of Basketball Operations Daryl Morey do at the NBA trade deadline?

Is there a plan in place to win now?

If not, is there a plan in place to get to where you can answer yes to the above question? 

That’s the only thing relevant right now in any team’s offseason – be it the 76ers or Eagles. The Sixers made two choices in the draft earlier this week to kick off their important offseasonThe Eagles are always relevant, even during this slow stretch in the NFL calendar.

I thought presidential debates were the lowest form of communication, until I heard there was an actual debate going on locally about whether Jalen Hurts is the long-term answer at QB for the Eagels. As flabbergasted as I was, it made me think of just where we are with our sports teams. 

Who has that plan, who does not. Here's what I know right now about both teams; one can answer yes to the first question, the other simply cannot. There is a stark contrast in the approach of both team building and execution of the offseason between the Eagles and Sixers. 

One team continues to have a formulated idea of how to beat free agency, apply pressure in the market, and read the draft board.

Yes, these are two different sports with different components. But being in charge of a professional team’s direction holds far more similarities across sports than you may think. In fact, it’s the easiest job to compare when going sport to sport, especially if both or multiple GMs have to work around a salary cap.

There isn’t anyone on the planet right now that can look at this year’s Eagles roster and not think they aren’t trying to win a Super Bowl. The only thing that carries over year to year in the NFL is coaching tendencies and talent, and the Eagles addressed both. 

If Hurts was Bryce Young, then sure, we can absolutely say this team is doomed. But they have talent and depth across necessary skill positions on offense, and at least did their best to try and address Jason Kelce’s departure. The defense is a mixture of veteran playmakers and “play-now” rookies, with a couple of younger players in the fold. The coordinators are improved on both sides.

Stop. You may not think the Eagles are going to win the Super Bowl, but it’s just impossible to look at this year’s plan from last year’s plan and say anything is worse. The team came back with a vengeance in the draft and hasn’t looked back since.

Now. Unfortunately, that’s where it stops. We see little semblance of any plan when it comes from the 76ers, which is something that does carry over year to year. The team made a massive error in building everything around Joel Embiid with bloated contracts and no depth. It’s not the first time they did it, nor is this the first management to make that mistake.

They jettisoned everyone from the team not named Embiid and Tyrese Maxey, hoping to somewhat start over with new pieces. Be it some fantasy of landing a Paul George without the recent injury history, or Brandon Ingram – who the team could have had over Ben Simmons, the operative term here is “start over”.

This isn’t the NFL, man. You don’t go from worst to first overnight, nor do you go from 6 to 1 and win a Championship. The Boston Celtics just showed the plan or reinforced it to those who have been watching for decades.

There is one massive trend when it comes to winning in the NBA, one that hasn’t changed over decades of basketball. You have to earn your lumps in the playoffs. The deeper you want to go, the deeper you need to earn a lump. There’s a rare exception here or there, but this team led by an oft-injured star isn’t going to break the mold.

So where exactly is the avenue to winning now for the Sixers? The NBA Draft? The team took what looks to be a fun, positive human being and a good hooper at that. There were other options, the next two guys off the board were far more ready to contribute to a playoff team, but this isn’t about ruining Jared McCain’s week. It just didn’t scream, “YES! We are ready to win right now!” either.

Even if they brought in a former champion as their third piece, this doesn’t guarantee any expedited success. George has been to three conference finals, nothing past that. Two of those three came at least a decade ago with the Pacers. It’s just difficult for me to see the nature of how to win in the NBA and think, yea, Paul George is the missing piece.

Ingram has played in just two playoff series, each a fist round exit. Teams need to grow, gel, even the big, bad Heat needed a year. The Sixers haven’t sniffed the NBA Finals with Embiid, and yet the clock keeps ticking before he misses more and more time.

One team has a formulated plan on how to put out a winner this year. The other team is playing chicken with two locomotives, one being Embiid’s window, the other being time it takes to build a winner. Stark contrast.

Eytan Shander is a long time radio and TV personality in Philadelphia. In addition to his weekly column, you can currently listen and watch him on Fox29’s Good Day and other sports shows. He’s giving betting advice on OddsShopper. A lifetime Eagles fan, Eytan lives just outside the city with his wife.

Follow Eytan on Twitter: @shandershow