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Hawks soar past 76ers to the ECF, NBA title up for grabs

Yahoo Sports Reporter, Vincent Goodwill, joins Yahoo Finance to discuss Trae Young and the Hawks dismantling of the 76ers process, as well as which team has the best chance to win the NBA title with Myles Udland.

Video Transcript

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MYLES UDLAND: All right, welcome back to Yahoo Finance Live. A lot going on in the markets. We've got inflation, we've got crypto crashing, but it has been a crazy couple of weeks in the world of sports. Got a cheating scandal in the MLB. You got the US Open-- men's golf-- concluded over the weekend. you got the US swimming and track & field trials.

But the real star has been the wild NBA playoffs, which are now continuing to inch toward their conclusion. Western Conference Finals started last night. Suns taking Game 1 over the Clippers. And then the Game 7 meltdown that was in Philadelphia. The Sixers getting bounced by the Atlanta Hawks. Yahoo Finance senior NBA writer-- or Yahoo Sports senior NBA writer Vincent Goodwill joins us now to discuss.

Vince, thanks for jumping on. So let's start in Philly last night. You have a column out that Ben Simmons is done with the Sixers in your view. I mean, what happened last night, because that was just-- that was just a bizarre meltdown, I thought, from the Sixers.

VINCENT GOODWILL: It was a microcosm of everything that we believe that was wrong with that team, as far as not being able to have your second best player be on the floor and be assertive in moments. Just a basic tenet of basketball is being able to shoot, being willing to shoot, and Ben Simmons, as great of a talent as he is, does not possess that, and it's been four years for him in this sort of rebuild process for the 76ers.

And they've been championship contenders in three of those seasons, and you can honestly say that because of this big wart that Ben Simmons has, it's prevented them from going to the next level. It prevented them from beating the team in Atlanta last night that they're better than. You had a Game 7 on your home floor. You had a Game 5 on your home floor that you blew as well because the Atlanta Hawks said we're going to foul you when we're down 20 and you're not going to make your free throws, and that's exactly what happened.

So at this point, I don't see how the 76ers can go forward with Ben Simmons, knowing his warts, knowing his deficiencies, and not being able to trust him in the offseason to be able to justify paying him another $140 million over the next four years or so.

MYLES UDLAND: And I know it becomes the most tired conversation in the NBA because Sam Hinkie doesn't even work in the NBA anymore, but we're still talking about The Process. This was the outcome of The Process. Is it time to stop waiting for The Process to play out in a year where Durant gets bounced by someone else, LeBron is out in the first round. I mean, it couldn't have been-- at least in my view-- set up better for the Sixers, and it feels like this has to be the end of that experiment.

VINCENT GOODWILL: Well, I mean, The Process ended a long time ago. Let's be perfectly honest. Sam Hinkie left the 76ers in 2016. They've had multiple general managers since then. They're on their second head coach since then. I think it's just a cute name to basically brand them because they got Joel Embiid, they got Ben Simmons through tanking for multiple years.

But like you said, the league changes every couple of years. It changes very quickly now. Before, maybe it changed every four or five years. Now it changes every two. With free agency and trade demands, you can reset and rebuild your team very quickly. You can see Kevin Durant go from one team to the next. Kevin Durant's gone to two different teams since The Process basically ended.

LeBron James has changed teams. James Harden. Every big name that you can name-- that you can think of, with the exception of a guy like Steph Curry-- has changed addresses over the past five years. So you can no longer hold yourself to the old paradigm of, well, everything's going to change in four to five years. You have to treat this like it's a year-to-year thing. Almost kind of like the NFL. It just looks different and it doesn't feel as good.

MYLES UDLAND: So we saw on Saturday Durant, basically, on his own, cannot overcome the Bucks, and it made me think of what we heard from LeBron James last week and his very forceful comments that the NBA created this situation where you had multiple stars getting injured. You really had-- I think what LeBron was saying-- kind of a watered-down product.

What have you heard from league sources? What's been the aftershock, I guess, of LeBron's very public comments essentially slamming Adam Silver and the commissioner's office for starting this season, what, six weeks, eight weeks after last year and the bubble is wrapped up?

VINCENT GOODWILL: Well, if you've followed LeBron James since this whole thing just started, he hasn't been a fan of anything that the league has done. He didn't talk about being vaccinated, even though he brands himself as a leader and his words could very well tilt the scales from the public standpoint when the NBA wanted him to come out and speak out. The NBA wanted him to endorse the All-Star game that they had in Atlanta a couple of months ago.

Clearly, all of this was a money grab to get the league out of the debt that it's been in. This has been a pandemic. There's nobody to blame. There's no one's fault. And the players still want to get paid. Like, the players has been receiving their paychecks from the moment that the league shut down over a year and a half ago and they haven't felt that pain. The owners have, and I am as pro-player as anybody.

But you also have to understand just the optics of it is that you can't say, hey, we want all of our paychecks, we want to get paid 100% of our salary, but we don't want to play the 72 games, which is uncomfortable because nobody wanted to play 72 games. Nobody wanted to see that.

You knew it was going to be a product that did not look as good as you wanted it to. But 72 games was the mark for the National TV deals to kick in-- the local, the regional TV deals to kick in. That was the magic number. That was the number that the league had to come to for all of that money to come in.

The league is still in debt, and if you're LeBron James you have to understand the economics, not just for your future because you only have a few years left, but for the future of the league, for the younger players who are going to want to make the same type of money to be able to take advantage of the economics, the growth, and the popularity of the league. So it's an unfortunate situation and nobody's there to blame, except LeBron wants to point the finger at somebody because he just has to.

MYLES UDLAND: And Vince, before we let you go, we are going to get a glow-up from some major star in the next couple of weeks. Maybe it's Devin Booker, Trae Young, Giannis. How do you see it playing out? Who do you think will win the NBA title given what we know today?

VINCENT GOODWILL: You have a lot of teams-- every team does left doesn't have a tradition of winning, so I would say there's no history that we can go in and say, well, they're following in these footsteps. But I will say the Milwaukee Bucks, just given by health and having a star in Giannis, even though Giannis Antetokounmpo has a lot of flaws. He overcame Kevin Durant this weekend. He overcame that big shot that he took.

And Giannis is a two-time MVP. He has the healthiest roster, the fullest roster, and they've been through enough heartbreak that I think we're going to know him as something more than the novel Greek-Nigerian basketball player. I think we're going to see him being crowned as a champion over the next couple of weeks. And please, let's not put an asterisk by it.

MYLES UDLAND: I was going to say, talk about someone who has had a good last week in terms of where his narrative has gone after what happened in Game 5. All right, senior NBA writer Vince Goodwill with Yahoo Sports. Vince, really appreciate the time this morning and hopefully we'll stay in touch as the playoffs progress.