Inside the 76ers: Colangelo wasting no time changing 'The Process'
TORONTO - The movement the 76ers call "The Process" has changed. It became obvious on Monday, when Hall of Famer Jerry Colangelo was hired as chairman of basketball operations after NBA commissioner Adam Silver urged the Sixers to do so. It's even clearer now that Colangelo and coach Brett Brown are engaged in talks with Mike D'Antoni to become the associate head coach, according to league sources. It's a role that could be filled by late December.
TORONTO - The movement the 76ers call "The Process" has changed.
It became obvious on Monday, when Hall of Famer Jerry Colangelo was hired as chairman of basketball operations after NBA commissioner Adam Silver urged the Sixers to do so. It's even clearer now that Colangelo and coach Brett Brown are engaged in talks with Mike D'Antoni to become the associate head coach, according to league sources. It's a role that could be filled by late December.
"The Process" we've come to know is over.
Sure, Sam Hinkie remains as general manager and president of basketball operations. The Sixers (1-23), whom he successfully constructed to lose games, will continue to do that at a high rate. And they'll still have a chance to get four first-round picks in the 2016 draft.
But having discussions with someone who has a coaching resumé like D'Antoni's is something the Sixers front office under Hinkie avoided.
Hinkie sought out young coaches with player-development backgrounds over people like D'Antoni, a 64-year-old with four NBA head coaching stints. Even the Sixers' coaching finalists in the summer of 2013 had strong player-development backgrounds before they eventually settled on Brown.
But D'Antoni isn't the lone person the Sixers will look at while trying to fill gaps on their coaching staff. Now that Colangelo is on board, the team wants to get more coaches with NBA experience in the mix.
"They are bringing in basketball people," said one NBA executive, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "Before, [former front-office executive] Courtney Witte was the last basketball person. They brought in all analytic people. Now it is reversing the trend.
"They are bringing in Colangelo, a famous basketball person. They [might bring] in D'Antoni, who is a former player and a former coach. It's going the opposite way. My personal opinion is it is for the good."
But it may not be good for several assistant coaches and staff members.
Colangelo isn't talking to D'Antoni just because he has 12 combined years of head coaching experience with the Denver Nuggets, Phoenix Suns, New York Knicks, and Los Angeles Lakers. D'Antoni is someone Colangelo trusts to be his eyes and ears since he's more than 2,000 miles away in Phoenix.
The two have a relationship dating back to their days with the Phoenix Suns in the early 2000s. Colangelo is the former Suns owner and was a longtime cornerstone of the franchise. D'Antoni went 253-156 in five seasons as the Suns coach. They also worked together on the USA Basketball staff, where Colangelo serves as the chairman.
"There's a reason why he's there," a second NBA executive said anonymously. "And it's not only to help coach. It's mainly to be the eyes and ears of the coaching staff and the front office back to Jerry Colangelo. There is no question. No one can talk to me about anything else to talk sense to change my mind."
That can become an uneasy situation for a third-year NBA head coach like Brown.
Perhaps as a way to not have Brown look over his shoulder, the Sixers gave him a two-year contract extension on Friday. It has him scheduled to remain the coach through the 2018-19 season.
But expect the Sixers to reevaluate everything they have done since Hinkie was named general manager in May 2013. They need to do that in order to find out what's needed to take the next step in building a championship contender.
It will be interesting to see whether Hinkie will still have his strong in-game influence. But adding experience to the bench has led some to believe the organization is ready to focus more on teaching the game than player development.
"These players aren't learning how to play basketball," the first league executive said. "They may be learning how to shoot better and dribble better. But the way they play, they are not learning how San Antonio players are learning how to play basketball."