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76ers hire Jerry Colangelo to be chairman of basketball operations

The 76ers got their credibility back. The franchise introduced Hall of Famer Jerry Colangelo as chairman of basketball operations on Monday evening.

The 76ers got their credibility back.

The franchise introduced Hall of Famer Jerry Colangelo as chairman of basketball operations on Monday evening.

"I think he will be very helpful for us," general manager Sam Hinkie said. "I think he can provide open doors. I think he can provide new experiences to me and to ownership. I'll take all the advice he'll give me."

But the biggest question is what does Colangelo's hire mean to Hinkie's longevity with the franchise. The Sixers are saying all the right things about how Hinkie will continue to run the day-to-day operations. But this hire reduces his power.

"There's a new sheriff in town," said an NBA executive, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

League executives believe this move is admittance by the Sixers ownership group that the process is not working. As a result, there's a sense that the move means that Hinkie will ultimately lose some of his power.

"He's coming here on his own terms," another NBA executive said of Colangelo.

Another league executive expects Colangelo to make major changes because "his reputation is on the line."

The league executives were wondering if Colangelo would get the Sixers ownership group to hire his son, Bryan, into a high-ranking front office position. Bryan had general manager stints with the Toronto Raptors and Phoenix Suns.

"To be explicitly clear, I continue to have confidence in Sam," co-managing owner Josh Harris said. "He will continue in his current role, leading us with the day-to-day basketball operations. More important, I want him in the position. Jerry in this new role will be an invaluable resource to help all of us."

Colangelo said Hinkie "will make the call on the final decision. But that's after a lot of collaboration and decision" with Colangelo and the ownership group.

The Sixers (1-21) are in the midst of their third consecutive season of sacrificing wins with the hope of securing top draft picks in the NBA draft. In the process, they have become the laughingstock of the NBA while compiling a 38-148 record since Hinkie was hired in May, 2013.

Several off-the-court incidents involving rookie Jahlil Okafor were also damaging to the franchise's image.

The center returned to action Monday against the Spurs after being suspended for the last two games after a video surfaced Wednesday of him getting into a second fight with a heckler on a Boston street in the early hours of Nov. 26.

Colangelo will evaluate things before giving his input on draft picks, free agency, and building a better culture.

"I'm here to assist in areas where I can already see things that I want to pass on to Sam," he said of having a veteran presence for young players. "And these aren't things that he hasn't already thought about. But when he hears them from me, he's hearing it from a different perspective and hopefully some of things are going to be addressed."

Colangelo is currently the chairman of the board of directors for USA basketball. The 76-year-old formerly owned the Suns, the Arizona Diamondbacks of Major League Baseball, the Phoenix Mercury of the WNBA, the Arizona Sandsharks of the Continental Indoor Soccer League, and Arizona Rattlers of the Arena Football League.

The Hall of Famer began his career with the Chicago Bulls, working as the marketing director, scout and assistant to the team president.

He left the Bulls in 1968 with just $200 in his wallet to become the first general manager of the then expansion Suns. Colangelo had two stints as the Suns coach in the 1970s. In 1987, he put together a group that bought that team. Colangelo also held the posts of chief executive officer, managing general partner and president before selling the team in 2004.

"I think opportunities like this are rare, where you get somebody with his experience that will give his time and expertise to help as an entire organization grow is rare," coach Brett Brown said. "To everyone's credit, we made it happen.

"So you sort of wake up this morning with a real bounce, a real excitement, and what the future can bring with him on board."

This move also takes some of the burden off Brown, who in addition to coaching, served as the Sixers spokesperson.

It also helps with public reception.

The Sixers were not a desired destination for free agents. There were even some draft picks, who didn't want to play for the franchise. Word around the league was that very few players would want to come to Philadelphia until they hired a well-respected basketball mind.

They introduced that person on Monday.

"He's a man of wisdom, of incredible, I think class," said Brown, who coached Australia in the 2012 London Olympics. "I saw him a lot in London when we coached against the United States. I know that my old boss [San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich] probably wouldn't have taken the United States [coaching] job if it weren't for Mr. Colangelo.

"All of those things come to my mind when you say, all of a sudden he is a Philadelphia 76er. This is a good day."