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Sixers : 'Rebuilding' could mean A.I. goes
Posted on by Dal

Sixers picked lucky number 13 in this year's draft, right where their wretched season said they should be, surprising no one. GM Billy King has mentioned "Rebuilding" the sixers. After this season's implosion, there are only two directions King can go - either retool around Iverson or rebuild without him.

'Rebuilding' could mean A.I. goes

By Jeff Smallwood

SECAUCUS, N.J. - Well, it could have been worse.

The Sixers could have been the Portland Trail Blazers or the New York Knicks.

Considering his team had less than a 1 percent chance to move into one of the top three spots in last night's NBA draft lottery, Sixers president Billy King wasn't expecting more than what he got out of his trip up I-95 to the NBA Entertainment Studios.

So that the Sixers stayed at the 13th pick in the draft, right where their wretched season said they should be, surprised no one.

If luck had been on the Sixers' side, King wouldn't have been in Secaucus in the first place.

But at least the Sixers didn't have to fly across the country to get socked in the stomach the way Portland president Steve Patterson did. By virtue of having the worst record in the league, the Blazers had the best chance of securing the top overall pick. They ended up in the worst position possible, slipping three spots to fourth overall.

The Knicks didn't even bother making the trip across the Hudson River because they had given their first-round pick to the Chicago Bulls in the trade for Eddy Curry.

That ended up being the second pick overall.

None of which has anything to do with the Sixers, accept that nothing really happened last night that would give a clue to what King is planning to do in what will be the most important, and possibly last, offseason of his tenure as head of the basketball operations.

"This allows us to really get started now," King said. "Now when we're talking, we know exactly where the picks are.

"A lot of the conversations were, 'Well, let's wait and see after the lottery and talk again.' So now, there were some people here tonight [and] I said, 'Alright, let's talk again [today].' And they said, 'Let's definitely talk [today].'

"So now, we can get going and get started on the rebuilding process to make sure that we're not back here."

Excuse me, but did King use the dreaded "R'' word?

That was "rebuilding," not retooling, reloading or retweaking.

Except for his uncharacteristic, expletive-laced Fan Appreciation Night outburst, King almost never uses any word, particularly one as dramatic as "rebuilding," unintentionally. So, this is ripe for speculation.

OK, so it takes some reading between the lines, interpreting and extrapolating, but if you want to place an early line on what the Sixers are going to look like next season, it's going to be extremely different than the way they've looked for the past decade.

I certainly could be wrong, but I think Allen Iverson has seen his last days in a Sixers uniform.

After this season's implosion, there are only two directions King can go - either retool around Iverson or rebuild without him.

The latter would be decidedly easier to do than the former.

"I want to change the culture in how we approach everything we do, on and off the court," King said. "There is a culture [that has been] permeating probably the last 3 years, and we've got to change it.

"The challenge for me is to change how we approach things, deal with the media, deal with our fans, deal with the players on the court.

"I guess the approach I'm looking at is as if I'm almost new to the job, so how would I want to do it? Not looking at it like I drafted these players or signed these guys. It's like now we're coming in new, and how would I want this team built?"

King gave no indication that his primary choice is to trade Iverson, but if you're truly talking about changing the culture of the Sixers, than it has to start with doing just that.

Obviously, there are a lot of positives in having a star as radiant as Iverson, but one of the negatives is that no matter what direction you might want to go, the only direction you actually can go is the one in which Iverson leads you.

Maybe if luck had been on the Sixers' side and they had moved into one of the top three spots, they could have drafted an impact player, pulled off a creative trade and made some shrewd free-agent signings.

All three of those things may have been enough to gather enough pieces around Iverson to make this franchise legitimately competitive.

But unless another Karl Malone or Kobe Bryant slips to 13th, the Sixers will only get a good player - not a franchise star.

The Sixers didn't get what they wanted out of the draft lottery, but the results still could be the first step toward changing everything.

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