The Philadelphia 76ers signalled a major shakeup this week when they announced the hiring of Jerry Colangelo.
Colangelo, the director of U.S.A Basketball, was given a front office role with the vague title “Special Advisor to the Managing General Partner and Chairman of Basketball Operations.”
Nobody was quite sure what this meant for the 76ers. However, at the press conference, owner Josh Harris said Sam Hinkie, the general manager, will still have day-to-day responsibilities, and Hinkie himself sounded happy.
Still, the effects of the shake-up weren’t clear. Would Hinkie still be the GM, or would he act under Colangelo, who has the league-wide connections and respect to perhaps turn the team around?
Now, new details have emerged and it doesn’t sound good for Hinkie or the team’s radical rebuilding plan, dubbed “The Process.”
According to CBS’ Ken Berger, it sounds like Hinkie’s role is even more diminished than previously believed. Berger reports:
Sam Hinkie, architect of the Sixers’ three-year strategy of rebuilding through scraping the bottom of the standings while collecting future draft picks like bubble-gum cards, remains the general manager in title alone. No one in the league expects Hinkie’s voice to carry over Colangelo’s when it comes to personnel decisions going forward. That ship has sailed, along with the needlessly complex equations that built it.
Berger also reports that while NBA commissioner Adam Silver did coordinate the meeting between Harris and Colangelo, but that it was Harris who first approached Silver about who could help dig the 76ers out of the doldrums.
Berger also dispels another widespread rumour, writing that other league owners did not push the 76ers to bring in Colangelo.
This also matches a report from The Intelligencer’s Tom Moore, who quoted a source, saying (via CBS Sports), “It’s clear (Hinkie) has, for all intents and purposes, been fired.” Moore reported that Colangelo wouldn’t take this position if he had to take orders from someone else.
ESPN’s Zach Lowe appeared to think somewhat differently, however. Given the 76ers’ situation — they’re 1-21, without a clear franchise player, and they haven’t yet turned their potential assets into actual players — they can’t just stop the process on a dime. Lowe said on his podcast “The Lowe Post:”
“I don’t think they’re suddenly gonna try to win 40 games next year. I think that objective — this is just my educated guess, it could change — but I think that objective is still the same … But just that the product on the court is more watchable, that we have a more realistic chance to compete every night.
And maybe that’s like, take a shot on a couple of these younger free agents that could help stabilise a couple of positions of need. Even if they’re not here on the exact contract that we want, or not here on a four-year minimum, or even if they will help us win four or five more games. If they help us stabilise things, so we’re not a story all the time. So we’re not a laughing stock. But we’re still run-of-the-mill bad — I think they got, like, one more year of that.”
As mentioned, the 76ers are still a long way from finishing their rebuild. While they have some nice, young players in Jahlil Okafor, Nerlens Noel, Robert Covington, Nik Stauskas, and Joel Embiid, if he can get healthy, it’s not clear if there’s a permanent building block in the bunch. The 76ers could end up with several draft picks this year, but those picks haven’t conveyed yet, and the 76ers would still need to draft the right players.
There’s a belief that Colangelo was brought in to help the 76ers in the free-agent market because of his connections across the league. That could help, but it’s fair to wonder if free agents would be willing to join the Sixers before there’s proof that a turnaround is on the way. Some might, but the team may have trouble recruiting actual productive players that can quicken the rebuild.
Nonetheless, reports indicate that the 76ers’ most radical part of the rebuild is over. While Hinkie did manage to get a few talented players and set the table for more, ultimately, his idea and execution were too lengthy to see through.
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