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NBA PM: Colangelo Discusses Sixers’ Plan

Jerry Colangelo discussed the Sixers’ plan and how the team could be competitive sooner than later.



Colangelo Discusses Sixers’ Plan

Much has been made about the Philadelphia 76ers’ decision to hire Jerry Colangelo as the team’s Chairman of Basketball Operations. There were even reports that this was some type of arranged marriage, with the league office directing Colangelo to the Sixers in order to put an end to the team’s tanking.

While that hasn’t been confirmed, there is truth to the idea that Colangelo wants to turn things around sooner than later. Rather than continuing to stockpile draft picks and young players for several more years, it appears Colangelo wants to speed up the rebuild by adding players through free agency and potentially flipping some of Philly’s assets in trades.

It makes sense that Colangelo is the person entrusted with helping to turn around the Sixers, given his success with the Phoenix Suns and Team USA’s program as well as his impressive resume that includes four NBA Executive of the Year awards.

Several moves have already been made since Colangelo joined Philadelphia’s front office, such as the signing of veteran Elton Brand to serve as a mentor to the team’s young big men, the trade for veteran Ish Smith so they could have an experienced point guard running the offense and the hiring of his close friend Mike D’Antoni as an assistant coach under Brett Brown. All of these moves are about helping the team become more competitive now, which lines up with Colangelo’s thinking.

And more moves could be coming soon. While some pundits have stated that it will take a very long time for the Sixers to climb out of this hole, Colangelo disagrees. That’s because the team has the makings of a nice young core, attractive trade chips and a ton of cap room this offseason. Consider this: the Sixers only have $24,518,361 in guaranteed contracts for next year, meaning they can go on a huge spending spree this summer and add multiple notable free agents.

“As I look at the board, I see some things that could happen sooner rather than later,” Colangelo told Sixers.com. “If somebody gets healthy.  If the player from Europe [Dario Saric] comes in and is part of the rotation, and we will have a very high draft pick, and then using some of those assets, to do other things – be it free agency, be it a trade, whatever – this thing could flip a lot sooner than people understand.

“So, I think this is not a situation where [we’re asking], ‘When are we going to come out of this?’ Or, ‘When are we going to be able to compete?’ I think that could be sooner rather than later.”

General manager Sam Hinkie is still managing the team day-to-day and has significant input into the organization’s moves. Colangelo admits that most of his work has been done over the phone and away from the team.

“I’m picking spots where I can be around the team, but I’m also on the phone every day, in terms of conversation on basketball business and Sixer business, so I don’t feel removed from it at all,” Colangelo said.  “Little by little, I’m feeling more and more comfortable.  My role is to make recommendations about what we could do better.”

Colangelo had positive things to say about the job Hinkie has done stockpiling assets during the rebuilding effort.

“As far as the plan, whatever people think the plan is, nothing is changing as far as a course,” Colangelo said.  “The reality is, and I’ve come to understand this, that Sam has really done a great job of accumulating assets.  You look at the trades, you look at the draft picks accumulated, it’s all there in place.  And now it’s a matter of when do you pull the trigger on using all those assets, or any of those assets.”

While stating that the plan hasn’t drastically changed, Colangelo did put a timetable on when he wants to see a turnaround. He made it clear that he hopes the team makes progress this year. He wants the Sixers competing and the next 12 months are ridiculously important in terms of the franchise’s plan.

“[2016] is the year,” Colangelo said. “It’s a big year, to look at all the assets and best utilize them.  What do we do here?  Do we take a couple picks and move up?  Do we make a trade?  Do you look at it from free agency, realistically, and see what you can do there?  It’s great to be in a position where you have the assets to use. There’s a lot of teams in the league you can’t say that about.  They’re kind of locked in in terms of where they are.  There’s one way to go here, and that’s up. I’m very optimistic.

“You’ve got to be a little bit lucky, too, in terms of all the things I’m talking about. I use the expression ‘the stars have to be aligned.’  And if we have a good alignment, it could happen in ‘16.  So we could have a turnaround in one year that would surprise people.  But the assets are in place to potentially make that happen.  There’s no guarantee, but the thing that you have to do is give people, I think, hope, that this isn’t like a ‘five-year, let’s-look-down-the-road-and-see-where-we-are [plan].’ No.  I don’t see that at all.  I see the opportunity here to get some big things done over the next year.”

Hinkie agreed with Colangelo’s approach and optimism entering this summer.

“I think if you zoom out a little bit, the summary of what we’ve done is to plant seeds for a harvest, and it’s not out of the question that harvest might come in even this summer,” Hinkie told Sixers.com.  “Obviously, none of our picks from 2014 in the first round [Saric, Joel Embiid] have hit the floor yet, and that could change.  And only one of our two first-rounders in 2013 is still on the team, but there’s other opportunities for us there, and that’s outside of all the other what I call ‘smaller things.’  I think things could feel very different, very quickly with a different level of talent around our team.”

In other words, keep an eye on the Sixers during trade season and the free agency period because this organization could extremely active.

Alex Kennedy is the Managing Editor of Basketball Insiders and this is his 10th season covering the NBA. He is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

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