The Philadelphia 76ers own the third overall pick in this week’s draft and they need a point guard, but it appears that the one they have on their radar doesn’t want to play for them. Apparently, former Ohio State Buckeye D’Angelo Russell does not wish to play in the City of Brotherly Love.
According to Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Times, Russell is not a fan of how general manager Sam Hinkie is running the Sixers; essentially tanking a season and rebuilding almost entirely via the draft.
“After trading point guard Michael Carter-Williams, the 2014 rookie of the year, to Milwaukee this past season, it would appear that the 76ers need a point guard,” Turner writes.
“But the buzz around the NBA is that D’Angelo Russell, a 6-5 point guard from Ohio State whom many see as a lesser Stephen Curry-type, doesn’t want to play for the unpredictable 76ers. Russell did work out for the 76ers last week.”
Well, this puts Philly in an awkward position.
The hole at the point is huge, since Hinkie traded second-year man and ineffective shooter Michael Carter-Williams to the Milwaukee Bucks at last year’s trade deadline, and Russell is a scoring point guard who can help complement big man Nerlens Noel. Moreover, unless Russell decides to pull a Steve Francis and demand a trade immediately after being drafted, there isn’t much he can do to avoid being picked by Philly. Even if he did publicly voice his displeasure if the Sixers drafted him, chances are he would still wind up playing for them that season.
But apparently the rumors have reached the draft experts as well. DraftExpress currently has Philly picking Latvian seven-footer Kristaps Porzingis at No. 3, with Russell slipping to the New York Knicks at No. 4, while NBADraft.net has him going third overall to the Sixers. But even ESPN’s Chad Ford has Porzingis going third overall and Russell fourth in his latest mock draft.
That all being said, while it is a bit shocking to hear a prospect make his feelings about a certain team known this close to the draft, Russell’s feelings about the Sixers aren’t entirely unjustified. While a rebuild from the ground up is what the team indeed needs, its track record isn’t the best. Noel, drafted sixth overall by the New Orleans Pelicans in 2013 before heading to Philly in the Jrue Holiday trade, didn’t debut until last season due to ACL rehab. Last year’s first-round pick, Joel Embiid, did not play at all last year due to a foot injury and may also miss the entirety of the 2015-16 campaign. Carter-Williams was the reigning Rookie of the Year entering last season, but Hinkie gave up on him fairly quickly.
Long story short, if the Sixers are rebuilding via the draft, it doesn’t look like they’re doing it correctly, especially since the rest of the team is essentially a D-League squad that features the likes of Henry Sims, Ish Smith and Jerami Grant, among a myriad number of others.
Regardless if Russell’s feelings about the team are true, perhaps it’s time for team management to reevaluate its approach to rebuilding.
*Featured Photo (above) credit to USA TODAY Sports