Sam Hinkie is out, although he wasn't supposed to be.
Bryan Colangelo is in, and father Jerry is out. Sort of.
And despite all of that, The Process continues. Apparently.
Four days after Sam Hinkie abruptly resigned, the Sixers officially named Bryan Colangelo as president of basketball operations.
“This may be one of the best jobs in basketball right now,” Colangelo said at a press conference Sunday afternoon. "Given all the things that have been established over the last three years, given the draft picks that are in place, given the cap flexibility, given the fact that ownership is committed. It’s a tremendous sports town with passionate fans. We’re going to embrace that passion.”
In addition to announcing Bryan Colangelo's hiring, the Sixers also revealed that his father Jerry has relinquished his role as chairman of basketball operations and instead will assume an advisory role.
When the Sixers hired Jerry last December, speculation immediately followed about whether Bryan would soon follow. Harris said the Sixers began having discussions with Bryan at the beginning of the year but also explained that Jerry was not involved in the hiring process.
The Sixers hired Jerry in December. His involvement with the team sparked questions of the influence his relationship had in Bryan’s selection. The Sixers began having discussions with Bryan at the beginning of the year, but Harris said Jerry was not involved in the hiring process.
"Jerry, truthfully, to be fair to Bryan and to be fair to himself and to be fair to us, recused himself from the entire process," Harris said. "He wasn’t involved. I think that he was on board for the approach, but he wasn’t involved with it."
Understandably, one of the key themes of the press conference concerned optics (which don't look good) — and Harris' trying to discount perception and explain reality.
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“I understand the optics of it, but the reality is Bryan was head and shoulders above every other candidate,” Harris said. “But the reality is, I went with Bryan because he was the best guy for the job."
Bryan Colangelo won NBA Executive of the Year awards working for the Phoenix Suns (2005) and Toronto Raptors (2007), becoming one of only three executives to win the award with different organizations. He spent 15 years with the Suns and served as president and general manager for the Raptors from 2006-13.
In 18 seasons as a general manager, Colangelo's teams have recorded 11 playoff appearances and four division titles.
For Harris, those credentials offset the obvious conclusion the connection to Jerry was the reason for Bryan's hiring.
“So this was really my decision, and now we’re managing the optics," Harris said. "It just so happens that Bryan was the best fit guy for the job, and we also had his Hall of Fame dad along in the organization. I made the decision that it was worth managing those optics to get such a talented guy in our organization.”
The Sixers had been looking to add to the front office for months, and the intention was to bring in someone to work with Hinkie.
“My predecessor, Sam Hinkie, has done a nice job of establishing the assets and resources to move forward in a positive way,” said Colangelo, who has spoken with Hinkie since his resignation. “I’m sorry that Sam will not be a part of that. It was intended all along that he would.”
Nevertheless, Colangelo emphasized the team is going to move forward with plan Hinkie had in place. The Sixers have the best mathematical chance to land the top pick in this year's draft and could have as many as four first rounders this June.
“I just want to be very clear that this is not about a departure from a process, a departure from a strategy,” Colangelo said. “This is a moving forward with everything that’s already been established, everything that’s in place, and we’re going to be measured in our continued building of this organization.”
At the same time, there is a push to win. Upon hiring Jerry Colangelo, Harris said he wished the process "would go faster." Season 3 of The Process wasn't supposed to result in a 1-30 start and 10-win season.
Now the Sixers have to turn the team around with the assets they have available. This could result in a change in player personnel. When building a team for next season and the future, Colangelo is a strong proponent of character and team chemistry.
“This is a transition from this measured rebuilding process to sustainable winning,” Colangelo said. “That’s what’s important to establish here. We will be pragmatic, we will be utilizing the tools and resources. You can only have so many developing players on your roster at a time, so there may be some decision to defer some of those to future years and there may be a decision to package some of those things to acquire players that make sense and fit our strategy.”
One of the reasons the Sixers looked to add to the front office was to enhance relationships in free agency. Colangelo is both well connected and well respected around the NBA. He noted he stayed close with colleagues in the league during the last three years. Given that it takes more than just a contract to bring a player to a new team in free agency, Colangelo has plans for drawing them to the Sixers.
“People want to win,” Colangelo said. “It’s not just about money anymore. Players want to know that they’ve got a chance to go and win in an environment. Again, we need to begin the transition that we’ve talked about. We need to start to change the narrative. Some of that will come into play.
"But the fact that this is a relationship business, and we’re going to start to work on those relationships in a big way. We’re going to start to again prove through some of the decisions that we’re making that we’re on the forward track and an upward track. That starts to change the selling point of this organization.”
This offseason most likely will be one of moving pieces, but Colangelo does not expect one of those changes will come on the coaching front. He believes Brett Brown has coached through enough turmoil to be there when it turns around.
“I said, ‘If it was merely for the sake of what he’s gone through and what he’s been through, he deserves a chance to see this through,’” Colangelo said. “What I’ve observed and what I’ve been impressed with, is a guy that is passionate about what he does, he seems to have a great idea and sense for the game. His team, from an analytics standpoint, actually plays the right way, they just haven’t played well, in that regard.”
Before Colangelo can make any decisions, he is going to meet with the staff and get a feel for the team. From there, he is eager to be back in the front office trenches.
"There’s so many things that made this more attractive than anything else that’s on the horizon," he said. "This is a summer of change."