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NBA Daily: Embarrassment Growing as the Colangelo Debacle Prolongs

The embattled Sixers GM, Bryan Colangelo, is still employed despite a week-long investigation into his alleged Twitter use. As each day passes, embarrassment grows for the franchise.

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It’s been eight days since the story about Bryan Colangelo’s alleged Twitter accounts broke.

Ben Detrick of The Ringer published a damning investigative piece linking the Sixers’ president of basketball operations to five Twitter accounts that were the subject of some anti-Sixers comments.

From bashing franchise player Joel Embiid, and simultaneously propping up Ben Simmons (non-Colangelo and Colangelo draft selections, respectively), to criticizing head coach Brett Brown and draft pick Markelle Fultz, the accounts appeared to have one goal in mind: put down anyone in the organization not named Bryan Colangelo.

Well, the accounts accomplished their goal.

So much so that an anonymous direct message tip to Detrick led to the publishing of a piece that brings the Sixers’ entire operating future into question.

Eight days later, the standoff continues. With each passing day, Philadelphia darkens the hovering cloud as the NBA draft and free agency approaches.

Coming off of a 52-win season, a second-round playoff appearance, the emergence of Embiid and Simmons as a budding superstar tandem, the future seemed as bright as ever for the Sixers. Even despite their 4-1 series loss to the Boston Celtics. All of the historic losing and the “The Process” finally paid off. Philadelphia had their stars in tow, with enough cap space to add to their arsenal.

The likes of LeBron James, Paul George, and Kawhi Leonard have all been linked to Philadelphia as future complementing pieces to their already-in-place core. But with Colangelo at the helm, are they — or any players for that matter — really an option?

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported that Sixers ownership met in New York Tuesday night to discuss whether the findings by independent law firm Paul/Weiss constituted removing Colangelo from his position. Wojnarowski reports that in the event Colangelo’s wife was responsible for the tweets, ownership would have a hard time separating the two individuals in terms of determining Colangelo’s guilt.

Rightfully so.

Perhaps Colangelo never logged in to the alleged Twitter accounts and spewed the negative comments about his inferiors within the organization. Perhaps his wife acted alone, solely defending her husband after he would come home from a long day just to confide in her the taxing nature of an incredibly high-pressure job.

But therein lies the problem.

Colangelo can never be exonerated from his wife in the court of public opinion. The information those accounts divulged (sensitive medical records, top-secret organization notes, etc.) will have agents and potential free agents questioning whether they can trust signing with an organization that has a history of being linked to bad-mouthing players on Twitter. What a reputation to have.

Wojnarowski also reported that the ownership group was planning to have Brown be front and center during free agent pitch meetings. Not a bad plan. Brown is one of the most well-respected coaches across the league, and positioning him as the face of the franchise isn’t a bad move. But doing so just to cover up the egg on your general manager’s face is an entirely different ballgame.

When Sam Hinkie resigned from his position with the Sixers, the league-wide narrative was rooted in a belief that the Colangelos (Jerry and Bryan) would restore the team to its former glory, before Hinkie’s abhorrent losing brought embarrassment to the team and the city. While Hinkie’s process yielded assets and players like Embiid, Simmons, and Saric, the grotesque level of on-court incompetence became too much for those around the league to handle. It was now up to one of the NBA’s royal families to restore order.

Yet, here we are, with Colangelo bringing a level of embarrassment to Philadelphia that exceeds a starting lineup of Tony Wroten, Hollis Thompson, Henry Sims, Chris Johnson, and Nerlens Noel.

An outcry from the Sixers’ fan base on social media to fire Colangelo is currently underway. While a franchise should never cave to the wishes of a fanbase, this level of a backlash deserves at least some level of consideration.

Perhaps the Sixers truly believe Colangelo had no knowledge of his wife’s tweeting habits. But regardless, the information divulged wasn’t pulled out of thin air. The arm of those ideas reaches directly towards Colangelo and his collar.

There is no conceivable way for the general public to separate this embattled president from some of those tweets. Maybe the Sixers’ players — those named especially — will buy the spin they are sold that Colangelo was completely oblivious. Maybe, for a time, so will the rest of the NBA. But that thought will linger in the back of the minds of many for the foreseeable future. And with the most important summer for the Sixers in the last 20 years, that’s the furthest thing the team could possibly want.

For the last five years, the Sixers have pleaded to trust in their process. Keeping Colangelo at the helm, in the wake of this mess, will crumble all of the trust the team built over that time.

In the best interest of the team, both present, and future, the Sixers need to move on from Colangelo.

Dennis Chambers is an NBA writer in his first season with Basketball Insiders. Based out of Philadelphia he has previously covered NCAA basketball and high school recruiting.

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