Woeful 76ers hire Bryan Colangelo as team president
PHILADELPHIA (AP) Philadelphia 76ers owner Josh Harris returned for a state-of-the franchise address with a new Colangelo by his side.
Hired in December, Jerry Colangelo is already out as chairman of basketball operations.
Enter Bryan Colangelo, the latest executive entrusted with molding one of the worst teams in professional sports into winners.
''We're really changing our focus toward winning,'' Bryan Colangelo said. ''That's something that's a shift in culture.''
That's a seismic shift in attitude for an organization that deliberately self-destructed its way toward the bottom of the standings.
Bryan Colangelo takes over days after Sam Hinkie quit as general manager via a rambling 13-page manifesto to ownership. The Sixers also announced Sunday that his father, Jerry Colangelo, has relinquished his role as chairman of basketball operations and will remain as special adviser to ownership.
Bryan Colangelo was previously president and general manager of the Toronto Raptors from 2006-13. One of three men to win NBA executive of the year with two different franchises, Colangelo also spent 15 seasons working for the Phoenix Suns.
Colangelo's teams have appeared in the NBA playoffs 11 times and won four division championships in his 18 seasons as a general manager.
The Sixers entered Sunday with the worst record in the NBA at 10-69 and last made the playoffs in 2012. They haven't won a championship since 1983.
Hinkie was always vague about when the Sixers might become winners again, often implying he would tank for years until he finally found his franchise player.
Scratch what Hinkie dubbed, ''The Process.'' Bryan Colangelo has ''The Plan.''
''I've outlined for ownership what I think is realistic,'' Colangelo said.
Instead of answering to his dad, he'll report straight to Harris and the rest of the ownership group.
Harris said Jerry Colangelo recused himself from Philadelphia's front office search and that other candidates were considered for the position.
''I went with Bryan because he was the best guy for the job,'' Harris said.
Bryan Colangelo and Harris both expressed disappointment that Hinkie would not stick around and continue to help rebuild the team.
''This is not about a departure from a process,'' Colangelo said. ''This is a moving forward with everything that's already been established.''
So why take the job?
For all his faults, Hinkie left some talent and gobs of salary-cap room for the Sixers to play with this summer.
Coach Brett Brown seems set to return for a fourth season. Nerlens Noel, Joel Embiid, Jahlil Okafor and overseas prospect Dario Saric still have potential on the court or as trade bait. The Sixers have in the neighborhood of $60 million in cap space, and they could have up to four first-round picks in the 2016 draft. There's a state-of-the-art practice facility set to open in the fall in New Jersey.
It's not the Warriors.
But it's not where they were stuck in October, either.
Bottom line, Hinkie did exactly what he told Harris he would - strip the team of talent, dump veteran contracts, gobble draft picks and surrender all hope of winning now in exchange for building a contender years down the line.
''I do think it's been a success,'' Colangelo said. ''We're at a jumping off point now where the organization is poised to take a major leap forward because of what's transpired over this last few years of what I'm going to call, a measured rebuilding process.''
Hinkie, though, was a difficult person to know, and he failed to develop the kind of necessary personal connections with players, agents, fans and the media that allowed them to give him more rope for this elongated rebuild.
''This is a relationship business,'' Colangelo said. ''And we're going to have to work on those relationships in a big way.''
Stuck at 1-30 this season, Harris made the move to bring in Jerry Colangelo in December to oversee basketball operations. Harris and Jerry Colangelo then wanted to add more veteran basketball leadership to the front office - make it a more collaborative effort than just the analytics-minded Hinkie.
Hinkie did not share in Philadelphia's vision of having him adjust or add to the power structure, so he quit. Harris refused to say how Hinkie would have fit in the new regime had he stayed to work under or with Colangelo.
Hinkie informed the team via a 13-page resignation letter littered with references to Abraham Lincoln and flightless birds that he was out.
''It was an unorthodox way of resigning,'' Harris said.