We can now extinguish our torches and put away our pitchforks as the Sixers finally
fired accepted the resignation of general manager Bryan Colangelo, putting an end to the strangest drama-comedy in our local sports collective.
Over a week since the story was first published on The Ringer detailing the curious link between several anonymous Twitter accounts and House Colangelo, the Sixers’ independent investigation conducted by their hired New York lawyers came to the same conclusion that Sixers Twitter did in a fraction of the time and likely million$ less – Barbara Bottini went full soccer mom. Colangelo’s wife admitted to being behind these anonymous accounts in an effort to defend her husband from online criticism and along the way destroyed the mutual trust needed between the front office and players. Like Elaine Benes left alone with a bottle of Peach Schnapps, Barbara B. couldn’t keep it in the vault.
In what is now a biennial tradition, Joshua Harris and co. are now seeking a replacement for their empty president of basketball operations and general managers positions with only two weeks until the beginning of what could be the most important offseason in Sixers history. While there are certainly those among us that are planning on hitting up SkyGarten for some cocktails before jumping off towards Arch Street, I’m here to tell you to hold off on making that reservation. There are plenty of perspectives with valid points, but let me tell you that the sky is not falling.
While this is a position we’d all prefer to have avoided, all is not lost. Most comments have come from fans worried about the draft, which is reasonable. Most of the pre-draft work for all teams is for now complete. The Sixers have had a big board assembled with all available prospects for months now, they’ve been scouting these players for years, and these last pre-draft visits and workouts are held mostly to confirm their thinking. No player will rise or fall significantly because of a pre-draft workout. They have their board and know who they’re targeting with the 10th pick and have contingency plans if they need to move up or use the pick in a draft day deal to acquire an elite talent. Don’t let anyone tell you those four second-round picks are worthless; you can trace the Sixers’ acquisition of the 2017 first overall pick for two second-round picks.
With regards to the free agent conversation, let me just say this – no player has ever decided to join a team because of the general manager. While that certainly can be a factor, the main issues are dollars, ability to win/current roster, and location/market. Whether or not LeBron James decides to take his talents to South Philly, having no general manager in place is better than having Colangelo in place. Any free agents that the Sixers acquire are coming to town because of Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Brett Brown, and the rest of the team.
Brown is not an ideal head of basketball operations long-term, but keep in mind he is just being positioned as the front man of the organization. He was involved in all the pre-draft work already and is fully aware of all the scenarios that have been mapped out ahead of time. There are thousands of man-hours that are put in behind the scenes and the Sixers have one of the largest front offices in the league. The real challenge comes in the heat of the moment during the draft and an opportunity arises to complete a trade for someone like Kawhi Leonard. Having a general manager in place certainly invokes more confidence in making those decisions, but the recently resigned Sixers’ decision-maker has a very recent history of pulling the trigger on such trades that do not look promising at the moment. Colangelo was brought to Philadelphia to be a “relationship man,” but judging from the public and private comments of the last couple of weeks, it seems that Brown has a stronger reputation around the league than Colangelo ever did.
Yes, having a general manager in place is certainly more preferable than not. Since the moment the burner account story broke, having no general manager is much more preferable than having Colangelo at the helm. In the end, he’s completely replaceable. There is no move that Colangelo completed in his two years as general manager that moved the team forward long-term. He said he’d “never lose a trade,” but the only trade you could say he returned fair value would be shipping Ilyasova out for a second-round pick at the 2017 trade deadline. Judging from the non-existent support Colangelo received around the league when this scandal broke, it appears the “Relationship Man” was anything but. Frankly, while team building is not his skill, having Brown as the front man of this offseason is preferable to Colangelo. The Sixers have said they will take their time in finding a replacement for Colangelo, and as Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN noted this week, every possible candidate wants this job. The table is set for an exciting offseason and the organization is still in a prime position to have sustained success.