That the Sixers and Celtics are on parallel paths back to respectability is nothing more than the reality of the NBA. The league’s salary cap and the impact of even a single superstar often force a franchise to gamble that, by breaking apart its roster and struggling for a season or more, it will increase the odds that it will draft a player who can change everything. (A simpler way to say all this is that the league encourages tanking, but that’s well trod ground.)

For too many years, the Sixers were unwilling to accept this necessary evil. They didn’t want to bottom out, so they lingered on the periphery of the playoffs, sometimes reaching the postseason, sometimes missing it, usually inspiring little more than a shoulder shrug from a frustrated fan base. Everything about them became stagnant and stale. It was only when their attempt to “go for it” - their misbegotten trade for Andrew Bynum - failed last season that they effected the sort of overhaul in front-office personnel and philosophy they needed.

“This year is going to be a lot about development - bringing some of our young guys along, try to change the culture, what hard work looks like, what expectations look like,” Sixers general manager Sam Hinkie said. “We’re looking as long-distance as we can, versus next month or next year.”

At least the Celtics got to lengthen their legacy before hitting the restart button. With point guard Rajon Rondo and their trio of eventual Hall of Famers - Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen - they won a championship in 2008, then reached the NBA Finals in 2010 and the Eastern Conference Finals in 2012 for good measure.

Reported by Mike Sielski of the Boston Herald