Sixers CEO Scott O’Neil: ‘We’re Exactly Where We Want To Be’
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The Sixers have lost 11 straight games, the most recent of which was to the team with the NBA’s worst record, the Milwaukee Bucks. The team traded two of its starters for a total of three second round picks. Of the players currently on the active roster, there are only two sure-fire NBA players. Still, things seem like they’re right on track.
If the purpose of this season was to ‘tear it down,’ as the first step in a rebuild process, the Sixers and general manager Sam Hinkie have done exactly that.
Team CEO Scott O’Neil says that while he doesn’t want fans to cheer for the team to lose, he thinks the process is proceeding as planned.
“Something to feel good about is certainly Michael Carter-Williams. He looks like the odds on favorite for rookie of the year. We would all be shocked if he doesn’t win that award given the stat-stuffer he’s been all season. He’s a heck of a player. He’s 6’6″, long, can rebound, got good court vision, can score. He’s been fun to watch. We have Nerlens [Noel] sitting over there right next to him on the bench, who has been working out like a beast and wanting to get on the court,” O’Neil told Angelo Cataldi and the 94WIP Morning Show on Wednesday. “I think he’s a guy that we should all be excited about. He would have been a consensus number one overall pick had he not been hurt. So we’re really excited about him. We’ve got two likely lottery picks, we’ve got five second rounders, I mean, this is the team that is built—and we’ve got cap space. I think we’re exactly where we said we want to be, exactly where we planned to be, and Sam has done everything he has said he was going to do. He’s gusty, he’s tough, he makes decisions that there’s not a GM on this planet that would make.”
Though the future does look potentially bright for the Sixers, the last few weeks have been rough. Back to back losses by over 40 points each, and the 20 point loss to the Bucks that wasn’t even as close as the final score indicated.
“Well, we’ve been pretty clear since day one, at least since Sam [Hinkie] and I have arrived, that this was going to be—we’re going to get roughed up a bit. That we were going to be building and have our eye on the future,” O’Neil said. “We said repeatedly, publicly—I have certainly that this is going to be a roller coaster and this isn’t for the faint of heart and you better buckle up. We’ve had some really fun times like we will Saturday night when we’re retiring [Allen] Iverson’s jersey, we’ve had some really fun times on opening night with Miami, and we’ve had some really rough spots. Going home the other night, my wife said, ‘I think you’re starting to get some gray hairs,’ and I said, ‘Wouldn’t you?'”
As for the current roster, it’s tough to see who may have a Sixers future aside from Carter-Williams, Nerlens Noel (who hasn’t played), and Thaddeus Young, who still could be a trade piece on draft night.
“If we can find three or four gems in this pile and use them as pieces to build up next year and the year after,” O’Neil said. “We’re optimistic!”