Free-agent strategies for the 76ers

Philadelphia could improve with addition of veteran to mentor young roster

Updated: March 27, 2014, 4:55 PM ET
By Amin Elhassan | ESPN Insider

Brett Brown, Michael Carter-WilliamsMark D. Smith/USA TODAY SportsBrett Brown and Michael Carter-Williams will see their team get better...eventually.

The Philadelphia 76ers stand on the cusp of the sort of history no one wants to be a part of, one loss shy of tying the all-time record for consecutive defeats. The most damning part of this futility is it hasn't come accidentally, due to mismanagement, or crippling injury, or awful chemistry. Rather, the Sixers' malaise was created in a laboratory, a test-tube baby of fruitlessness, the result of management shrewdly gaming a system that rewards abject failure with the most favorable odds at choice draft picks in June. They're doing this on a shoestring budget, with a payroll that for much of the season was below the league salary floor of $52.8 million, by fielding a roster of mostly NBA hopefuls (the caliber of talent that would be hopeful for 10-day contracts normally).

Despite cap flexibility and a well-stocked pick inventory, all indications are that Philly doesn't plan on aggressively seeking roster improvement via trade or free agency, instead opting for a more organic growth plan built on adding more talent in the draft and developing existing personnel. Still, there needs to be an infrastructure in place to create the proper environment for that growth. Here's a look at what they can do.

Why do they need to do anything?

It'd be easy to say that the Sixers should hit the replay button, and go into 2014-15 season with the same strategy: fringe talent acquisitions, pick hoarding, lots of losses. But the stigma of losing so often and so convincingly (42 of Philly's 56 losses have been by greater than 10 points, and the average margin of loss this season is almost 16 points) at best can demoralize your roster and staff, and at worst, desensitize them.

For players such as rookie Michael Carter-Williams, this can stunt his growth by de-emphasizing a need to pay attention to detail: How often should I make the right rotation defensively if no one else does? How do I focus on being efficient with my offensive possessions when the dearth of talent calls for me to be a volume scorer?