The Process is officially dead. With the trade for Jimmy Butler, the Sixers have ushered in a new era of Philly basketball: The Moment.
As a Sixers fan, I fully embraced the Process. I was tired of watching my favorite franchise stuck on the treadmill of mediocrity. Obviously, a rebuild would be painful but eventually, we would reap the benefits from all the losing. However, the Process turned out to be really fun. Brett Brown built a culture from scratch. The teams were bad but they played hard every night. The stakes were low and we could enjoy watching our young players develop, most notably Robert Covington and Dario Saric.
Both players personified the Process. Covington was an undrafted free agent who was waived by the Rockets before signing with the Sixers. Saric was a draft and stash that many fans thought would never come over to play in the US. In time, they became folk heroes in Philly, RoCo and Dario. To see them traded for Jimmy Butler was jarring at first.
Clearly a move like this needed to happen for this team to take the next step, but we are in uncharted territory as Sixers fans. No longer can we use the caveat that we are looking towards the future. The conversation was always “when our young guys develop, the league better watch out.” The Moment is now in Philly and the idea of that can be terrifying. Yes, Embiid and Simmons are still young. Yes, we don’t really know what we have yet in Markelle Fultz. However, Jimmy Butler is already 29 years old and he will be making $40+ million towards the end of his next contract. This is our core going forward and we don’t have the time to wait on future development.
The Process is undoubtedly dead, however something else in Philly is just beginning. For the first time since the Allen Iverson days, the stakes are very real and I am both excited and nervous to see what happens next. There are obvious reasons why we should temper our expectations. Jimmy has clashed with other young players at his previous stops. The on-court fit isn’t perfect. However, great players find ways to play together and I fully expect this team to take another leap this season and win the Eastern Conference.