Turnover is natural in the NBA. Each offseason, teams assess their rosters to decide who will be part of their futures and who is no longer a fit for their organizations.
Members of the Sixers enter this summer with months of uncertainty ahead of them. As the team shifts direction, the players realize the team as they know it could look very different next season.
"It's definitely tough when you spend a year on the road and in the locker room getting to know each other," Nerlens Noel said.
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Unlike other teams that have a solid foundation in place, the Sixers essentially have a blank slate. They are moving into a new phase in which winning is a priority after accumulating just 47 victories over the last three seasons.
With that shift in focus comes the task of rebuilding the roster. The team had been constructed with young, inexperienced players under former president of basketball operations and general manager Sam Hinkie since the start of "The Process."
But newly appointed president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo recently said, "You can only have so many developing players on your roster at a time." He also referred to this offseason as "a summer of change."
After finishing 10-72 this season, the Sixers have to shake up the roster to transition into a winning direction.
"It's survival of the fittest," Brett Brown said. "Some of that comes with the judgement and pain of telling somebody that they have to go find a new home or the home that they have right now just has included new players and that you're not a part of that. That's just part of pro sport. These guys know that.
"Having said all that, you do get close to your guys and, as I've said, it's a team that didn't win much but I truly enjoyed their company. I did enjoy coaching them."
The Sixers have several routes to explore with the upcoming roster. They have one of the most flexible salary caps to pursue free agents. They also could land up to four first-round draft picks. They have a 25 percent chance of getting the first pick and mathematically cannot fall lower than fourth. The Sixers could use those picks to keep those rookies, or they could package the picks in a bigger deal to bring in more veteran talent.
"As players we only can control what we can control, which is going out there playing," Isaiah Canaan said. "Everything else, I'm sure the coaches and GM are going to figure out the best way to make sure this team is in a good position to be successful. Of course everybody would like to be a part of it. Sometimes the business side of that doesn't allow it. But at the same time, we just do what we're supposed to do and then let everything else, all the blocks fall into place."
Regardless of how many players return to the Sixers next season, those on the team believe they will stay connected.
"We all are like brothers," Robert Covington said. "We're going to visit each other. It's not like if we part ways that everything is going to fall apart like that because we're so close as a unit. I'm pretty sure no matter what we're all going to be in contact with each other."