Derek Bodner covers the 76ers for Philadelphia magazine. Follow @DerekBodnerNBA on Twitter.
Bryan Colangelo Doesn’t Expect Much Change In Front Office
When Bryan Colangelo was hired to be president of basketball operations for the Philadelphia 76ers, the future of Sam Hinkie’s staff was brought into question.
Those questions were answered, somewhat, when Colangelo said he told ownership Brett Brown was his coach going forward.
“I told the ownership Brett Brown is the coach of this basketball team going forward. I left no question [to that],” Colangelo told CSN Philly’s Breakfast on Broad last week.
Colangelo went a step further yesterday, saying that he doesn’t anticipate a lot of changes to the front office.
“It’s important to point out that I didn’t come in here with the notion that I was just going to torch the place and start anew,” Colangelo said, during a 1-on-1 interview I had with him, which was released as a podcast. “There’s a lot of smart people here, even to the point where it’s fully in line with some of the thinking that I’ve already been migrating towards over the last several years.
“The team that’s here now, for all intents and purposes, more or less will be the same,” Colangelo continued.
Colangelo did say that while he wasn’t looking to change out the entire staff, there may be some additions.
“I think we could, perhaps, bring yet a little bit more basketball thought into the equation,” Colangelo said. “That’s something we’re contemplating.”
This could all obviously change, and Colangelo did say that they were still in the process of “evaluating what’s here, and discussing the roles and responsibilities,” providing him a little bit of an out if he does change his mind. Keeping the team intact, at least through the draft, would seem almost a necessity considering how little time there is between when Colangelo took over and June 23rd’s draft.
There also still remains the possibility that some on the staff could leave under their own volition, a possibility that always exists, but is especially true during regime changes when uncertainty is at its peak.
Still, for a team that many thought could see the coaching staff and front office gutted with Colangelo’s arrival, he seems to be dedicated to keeping the staff largely intact.
For now, at least.
Navigating free agency
Colangelo also spoke on some of the tricky waters he has to navigate in free agency, a task made even more difficult by the uncertainty around the Sixers’ numerous young pieces.
“As much as I want to say ‘Let’s go compliment those players’, I think we’re still looking for that cornerstone piece to start with,” Colangelo said. “That’s not to say that some of the young guys on the current roster can’t ultimately become that, and it’s not doubting that, it’s just saying, as we speak today, nobody has stepped into that role of star player. We’re looking for our first star.”
That makes targeting free agents a little more difficult, as complementary pieces, the types of players the Sixers are likely to be in the market for, almost by definition have their value largely dictated by who they’re complementing.
“This year there’s a lot of uncertainty, a lot of unknowns. We have to let some of it play out,” Colangelo said. “This might not be the year that a big splash is made in free agency, but key pieces, or glue pieces, what I’ll call team building pieces, will be added to try to put a balanced roster on the court for coach [Brett] Brown.”
Regardless of exactly how the draft, and free agency, plays out, Colangelo was clear that he sees this as the beginning of a new phase.
“I’m hoping that we can walk into this situation where there is a lot of assets and resources at our use, and we can put them to use in a pragmatic and measured way going forward,” Colangelo said. “But these are steps of building, not rebuilding. The rebuilding is done, now we’re on to the upward progress of this franchise.”
Colangelo was in a very similar situation when he took over the Toronto Raptors in February of 2006. Chris Bosh, just 21 at the time, was in the midst of a season that saw him average over 22 points per game. The Raptors were losing, and losing big, and would be awarded the #1 pick in the 2006 draft just three months later.
Colangelo ended up using that pick on Andrea Bargnani, the biggest blemish on an otherwise mostly positive draft record for Colangelo. Despite some initial success – the Raptors won 47 games, a 20-game improvement over the previous season, during Colangelo’s first full season in charge – Colangelo was never able to find the complementary pieces to surround Bosh with.
And, according to Colangelo, Bosh may not have been good enough in the role they asked him to fill.
“At the end of the day we just thought Chris [Bosh] wasn’t the guy that we could build around. And it’s not a knock on Chris, he just wasn’t that #1 option for us,” Colangelo said. “I think in Miami he was the perfect complement to Dwayne [Wade] and LeBron [James]. Those 3 together were really complementary. I needed to find those same types of players to really make it work there.”
That’s an interesting answer considering Colangelo had just talked about how the Sixers don’t yet have that star. Chris Bosh was good. Really good. Bosh averaged at least 22 points per game in each of his last five seasons in Toronto, with a true shooting percentage in the 57-through-59 percent range. Finding a player better than Bosh is no small task, even if things break right for the Sixers.
You can listen to the full interview below.