The timing of this Bryan Colangelo soap opera is atrocious. We’re entering the most important Sixers’ summer since.. God, I don’t know. I can’t think of an offseason that was more critical to the future of this team than the one we’re currently in.
Yet here we are, three weeks before the draft, with the team investigating a report that its general manager operated multiple Twitter accounts that were used to criticize players, writers, fans, and the coach while releasing private medical information at the same time.
Imagine, then, you’re a free agent looking for a new team. You’re Paul George or LeBron James and you see this ridiculousness going on in Philadelphia. Are you gonna sign for the Sixers? Is the lure of Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons and Brett Brown strong enough to make up for concerns about how the front office operates? Can you trust a guy who allegedly talked shit about his own people?
How do you recover from this?
— Joel Embiid (@JoelEmbiid) May 30, 2018
This whole thing is a lose/lose. If the Sixers keep Colangelo and decide he has no culpability in this, then you’re trying to repair strains with the players, fan base, coach, and media. You saw Joel Embiid and Richaun Holmes’ tweets from Tuesday night. Markelle Fultz is probably scratching his head as we speak. There was a group of pro-Hinkie Sixers supporters who never trusted Colangelo in the first place, so they’re obviously not going to change their minds now. Moving forward with Colangelo, even if he’s 100% cleared of wrongdoing, feels like it’s untenable at best.
And part of that is because we live in a day and age where people believe what they want to believe. This is the fake news era. Morgan Freeman can say whatever he wants about sexual assault allegations, and he may be completely innocent, but there’s a portion of people who have already made up their mind. They’re gonna crucify the guy no matter what. I know that sounds like an extreme comparison, but the #metoo movement is a relevant and recent starting point if we’re talking about labeling people guilty by default. There has to be some semblance of due process. In most cases, people immediately take a side, so the damage is already done.
Now if the Sixers fire Colangelo, it’s an embarrassment for the franchise (and the league, too). You already removed one general manager at the NBA’s behest and replaced him with a guy who was supposed to be a better communicator and have a better relationship with fans and media. And even if Josh Harris and David Blitzer had absolutely nothing to do with this, they get the bad press by extension simply because they’re the highest point of the HBSE umbrella. We should be talking about draft prospects and tracking free agent news, but we’re instead embroiled in a dopey scandal on May 30th.
Still, if you rid yourself of Colangelo, you do have an opportunity to stitch this together in a one-step-back, two-steps-forward type of way. For instance, you could get LeBron James on the phone and say, “hey, what if we brought in David Griffin as our new general manager, would you link up with him again?” You can theoretically pair your GM and free agent moves together in an effort to lure a high-priced star. I don’t think many people would care about the Colangelo conspiracy if you turned this garbage into LeBron and Griffin gold. Or, Christ almighty, Sam Hinkie makes his triumphant return to Philadelphia and the Process is completed in dramatic fashion. You could argue that there’s a “blessing in disguise” angle to this story. I really don’t know.
Unfortunately, there’s more upside to scenario two, moving on from Colangelo, versus keeping him around. But I can’t kill a guy for things that remain unproven, and it’s irresponsible and reckless to condemn him before the investigation is complete. That was the stance I took with the Haddonfield racism case, and I’ll stand by that until I fall over dead. We simply can’t punish people for things we’re unable to prove.
So the whole thing is dumb. I see site traffic rolling right now and I understand that this is a wild story with a lot of pull. But the beat writer side of me sees an impending disaster with bad press and long-term ramifications, unless the Sixers somehow mold this into a blockbuster GM and/or player deal. Whatever happens in the next few days will determine the course of this franchise both on and off the court for years to come.