This thing has late Friday news dump written all over it.
With the Ringer story breaking on Tuesday night and the Sixers sending out the email confirming an internal investigation at 8:45 on Wednesday morning, we’re a little more than 48 hours into the probe, which is being done by a New York law firm, according to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.
Going through my inbox, most Sixers press releases and news announcements seem to come in the afternoon – 1 p.m., 2 p.m., 3 p.m., sometimes later. Whether Bryan Colangelo stays or goes, you probably drop that news before leaving the office, minimize the impact, and let it simmer over the weekend while people are down the shore or drinking/smoking/grilling/whatever. That’s the old damage mitigation strategy, and it would put us at something like 54 or 55 hours from start to finish.
I have no idea if that’s long enough for everything these lawyers need to do. Colangelo apparently surrendered his cell phones and you’ve got a bunch of tweets and accounts to look through. But dropping this thing any later than Saturday or Sunday is rough. Monday puts you back in the weekday news cycle just 17 days before the draft. Dropping it during the weekend makes it look like you’re burying it and trying to move on, but that’s really the whole point, isn’t it?
As Chris mentioned in the roundup, ESPN is reporting that the angle of the investigation is steered toward’s Colangelo’s wife, Barbara Bottini:
As a Philadelphia 76ers internal probe into anonymous Twitter accounts has become increasingly focused on the wife of president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo, franchise ownership is seriously considering Colangelo’s dismissal, league sources told ESPN.
Colangelo, a two-time past NBA Executive of the Year, has discussed with ownership and upper management the possibility that his wife, Barbara Bottini, may have been involved in the postings of the tweets from so-called burner accounts, league sources said.
So far, Philadelphia ownership has shown little, if any, inclination to separate Colangelo’s culpability in the matter should a family member or close associate be proven responsible for the postings, league sources said.
And that’s basically the consensus from what I’ve seen reading various stories and scrolling social media. The idea that you can separate Colangelo from the alleged actions of his wife is a non-starter. He’s the point person for proprietary information regarding draft and trade strategy, plus player injuries, so if that info gets out in any way, shape, or form, the blame ultimately falls on him.
Similarly, if a newspaper editor goes on vacation and an associate editor is running the ship, and a stringer writes something like, “I hate Gabe Kapler and I bet he kicked a puppy and stole money from a children’s charity,” you can’t just fire the stringer and move on. Both editors would both be culpable for allowing something like that to be published. Likewise, the Starbucks CEO took heat for the Philadelphia situation – even though he had nothing to do with it – simply because he’s responsible for everything that happens within his company.
That’s how these things go.
More from the ESPN story:
Ownership fears that Colangelo’s credibility inside and outside the organization may be too badly damaged to continue his job, especially within a month of a July free-agency period when the Sixers plan to pursue superstars such as LeBron James and Paul George to partner with young stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons.
But beyond the franchise’s credibility in recruiting prospective players, the bigger concern rests on the personal attacks on Embiid in the postings, the second-team All-NBA center and franchise superstar.
Even if Colangelo didn’t send a single tweet or post a single comment, people aren’t going to trust him moving forward. What can he really do to remedy that? Divorce his wife? Sit down with every single player to smooth things over?
And even if the Sixers fail to find anything conclusive in the investigation and wind up keeping him on board, people already have their minds made up anyway. Do you really think the pro-Hinkie Sixers fan is going to believe that Colangelo had nothing to do with this? O.J. Simpson was found innocent in a court of law, but people formed and kept their own beliefs about what really happened. I know that’s a somewhat radical example, but you get the point – people generally believe what they want to believe.
Furthermore, what does the first face-to-face meeting between Colangelo and Embiid look like? Embiid came out and tweeted that Sam Hinkie was a better general manager. You think they just shake hands and move on? I dunno.
The damage is already done, as I wrote the other day. It’s a lose/lose situation no matter what happens, so best to wrap it up this weekend and move forward.