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Why Bryan Colangelo’s Departure Won’t Affect the 76ers Free Agency Pull

On Thursday, Colangelo released a statement, marking his official resignation from the organization.

For some, “trusting the process” just became a lot harder.

The Philadelphia 76ers front office is currently in the hot seat in light of recent allegations against former president of basketball operations and general manager, Bryan Colangelo.  On Thursday, Colangelo released a statement, marking his official resignation from the organization.

Colangelo’s brewing departure stemmed from an incident that occurred over a week ago, where he was accused of creating and operating five fake Twitter profiles.  The accounts were then used to criticize active Sixers players and to disclose sensitive information related to the organization.

A statement released by Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, the law firm hired to investigate the claims against Colangelo, concluded that he was not responsible for operating the accounts.  Instead, Barbara Bottini, Colangelo’s wife, was discovered to be behind the profiles. She later admitted to running them.

However, the statement also revealed that, “Colangelo was the source of sensitive, non-public, club-related information” contained in many of the Twitter posts.  Colangelo denied the claims, expressing that his wife “acted independently” and he had no knowledge of the ongoing social media scandal.

As 76ers head coach Brett Brown steps into his new role as interim general manager, rumors regarding the organization’s potential loss of favorability among top free agents are running rampant.

Brown isn’t concerned.

“I feel most strongly that when we go into a place with my coaches, and we bring Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons in with me, that will be sufficient,” said Brown on prospective free agents, according to NBA.com’s David Aldridge.

Following the calm and collected lead of Brett Brown, here are a few reasons why the Sixers should have nothing to worry about during free agency.

1.) The Sixers Are Positioned for Long-Term Success

At just 21-years-old, Sixers rookie Ben Simmons had a standout season.  Coming away with 18 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, two steals, and one block, he shined during his October debut in Washington.  On the season, the point forward averaged 15.8 points, 8.2 assists, 8.1 rebounds, and shot 54.5% from the field. Simmons’ exceptional stat line landed him a unanimous NBA Rookie of the Year nomination, alongside Utah’s Donovan Mitchell and Boston’s Jayson Tatum.

Joel Embiid, Philadelphia’s 7-foot-2 center and other young star, also showed the Sixers how he brings valuable minutes to the floor.  Following a slew of frustrating injuries, Embiid missed the entire 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons, as well as a portion of the 2016-17 season.  This past season heralded Embiid’s relatively healthy return. Fans were rewarded with a glimpse of the danger Philadelphia poses to other teams, especially when its stars aren’t injured.

With both Embiid and Simmons healthy, they have proven to be a fearsome young tandem who can only get better.  Having led their team to an impressive postseason run and an Eastern Conference Semifinals appearance, it certainly looks like the Sixers will be back.  For free agents, what’s more enticing than a young team poised to win?

2.) Colangelo Led A Front Office That Worked

For all of the backlash that he received, Colangelo was a decent general manager.  Despite the recent social media scandal or the PR blunders surrounding Markelle Fultz, he was a key component in rebuilding a struggling franchise.  

“I worked hard to help build a foundation for what I hope will soon be many championship seasons for the 76ers,” Colangelo said in his resignation statement.

Colangelo joined the organization in April 2016, a season where the Sixers went 28-54.  They finished in 14th place in the Eastern Conference and 27th overall. Almost dead last.

Colangelo’s accomplishments are more admirable considering the Sixers’ dry spell in recent years.  Prior to their recent Eastern Conference Semifinals defeat by the Boston Celtics, the Sixers last postseason appearance was in the 2012 NBA Playoffs.  To add insult to injury, the Sixers have finished with a sub-.500 record since the 2011-12 season, not including this past year.

Not to say that Colangelo deserves all of the credit, but the Sixers continued to progress during his time in Philadelphia.  The setup for a well-managed team may be alluring to free agents, especially if they’re attempting to escape a chaotic or shaky front office.

3.) A Star Could Be Philadelphia’s Missing Piece

Philadelphia has leverage.  The Sixers are in a place where they have the benefit of a young roster and newfound success, but also have the ability to make big-time improvements during the offseason.

As LeBron James’ second stint as a Cavalier looms ominously over Cleveland, his chance at a  fresh start could be waiting on the East Coast. Oklahoma’s Paul George could also be a great fit in the Sixers’ lineup.  Additionally, there is much conversation surrounding the team’s prospect, even if slim, of landing both. Regardless of what high-profile talent that the Sixers nab in free agency, the results of acquiring a star could have the potential to produce a championship-caliber team.

4.) The Sixers Are Rising Stars in A Weaker East

Having entered the 2018 Playoffs as a No. 3 seed, the Sixers are among the top Eastern Conference teams to enjoy a less challenging path to the Playoffs.  In what many consider as “bad for basketball,” the Western Conference has managed to acquire a majority of the current great talents in the league. The shift, a result of players and organizations chasing “super teams,” has benefitted top-seeded teams in the East.

The Sixers have drastically improved their record over the past few years, making them a tempting target for free agents who don’t have the patience for a even a short-term rebuilding process.

While the West offers highly competitive play, in which star players feel their talent is more accurately measured, the East is the place to be when following the path of least resistance.  Philadelphia’s young roster is primed to switch it up in the weaker Eastern Conference, a quality that some free agents may try to take advantage of before the state of the league changes once more.

 

As the NBA gears up for what many expect to be a memorable offseason, perhaps no team is more setup for success than the Sixers.  Despite the recent negative spotlight placed on the organization, the Sixers are geared up to pursue some of the biggest names in free agency.

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