All right, so we're now officially at that point that the Sixers have inevitably found themselves just about each of the last five seasons--the point where it's time to decide whether to either make a hard push for a low playoff seed and likely first-round exit, or to trade away veterans, rebuild around youth, and pile up losses in the hopes for a high draft position. Is a short playoff run worth potentially sabotaging the team's long-term future? Then again, is a high draft pick who might end up being unable to help turn things around (see: Turner, Evan) worth wasting an entire season?
It's a hotly debated issue, and one with no true right answer. However, gray areas never stopped Charles Barkley from being absolute in his opinion before, and it certainly didn't stop him when, as reported by Inquirer writer Bob Ford, Chuck stopped Ford at Soldier Field recently to ask him at a pertinent question about the Sixers:
"Why is Doug Collins trying to win games?" Barkley said. "That's stupid. They should develop the young guys and try to get a better draft pick."
Barkley said he didn't mind being quoted -- duh -- so I'm passing that along for what it's worth.
"Doug's a great coach. Don't get me wrong," Barkley said. "But sometimes coaches get carried away with their own egos. But in a situation like this, it's not about them."
Now, there is some arguable truth to a couple of points made by the Chuckster here. Personally, I'm in agreement that they should be making more of an effort to play their young'ns, a move which would be greater facilitated by trading veterans Andre Iguodala and/or (in a dream world) Elton Brand. (Though with Jrue Holiday and Jodie Meeks starting and Evan Turner and Thaddeus Young playing about thirty minute a game off the bench these days, it's not like Collins is shackling the kids to the bench, either.) And certainly some have made the point that the only way out of the Sixers' recent run of mediocrity is to lose badly for a few years, amass some high draft picks, and rebuild in the recent Blazers/Thunder/Clippers mold. Fair enough.
But to throw ex-TNT buddy Doug Collins under the bus for having the "ego" to actually try to win games? Come now, Charles. Last I checked it was still in the job description of NBA head coach to at least try to, you know, not lose. If the Sixers were 10-34 right now instead of 19-25, would everyone in Philly be applauding Collins's rebuilding effort, saying "Now there's a coach who knows what's best for his team long-term"? Doubtful. More likely, we'd be killing him for not getting any kind of progress out of a young, talented team, and probably calling for his job faster than you can say "Eddie Jordan." (Or "Tony DiLeo." Or "Mo Cheeks." Eh.)
I guess by this logic, Wolves coach Kurt Rambis and Wizards coach Flip Saunders must be the most humble, grounded individuals in pro sports right now. If that's true, I guess I don't mind a little boastfulness and braggadocio from my head coach after all.