THEY MAY see different paths in getting to the destination, but, for the most part, it appears chairman of basketball operations Jerry Colangelo and general manager Sam Hinkie are somewhat on the same page as the Sixers move forward.
Colangelo, with his Phoenix tan and natty outfit, sat through 76ers practice Wednesday as he continued his visit to the East Coast, which included a meeting Tuesday in New York with owners Josh Harris and David Blitzer. Hinkie was with Colangelo at practice and both talked afterward of how they see the process now and how it might appear in the very near future.
"I've learned a lot in just a few weeks here," said Colangelo, who met up with the team when it was on its annual trip out west over the holidays. "I think we've done some tweaking. If you'll recall at the (introductory) news conference, I said there may be some things that you could do of an immediate nature that could be helpful and beneficial. But as far as the plan, whatever the people think the plan is, nothing is changing in terms of a course.
"The reality is, and I've come to understand this, Sam has done a really great job of accumulating assets. If you look at the trades, if you look the draft picks that have been accumulated, it's all there in place. And now it's a matter of when do you pull the trigger on using all those assets or any of those assets? As I look at the board, if you will, I see some things that could happen sooner rather than later...if somebody gets healthy (Joel Embiid). If the player from Europe (Dario Saric) comes in and is part of the rotation and we will have a very high draft pick. Then using some of those assets to do other things to consider, be it free agency, be it a trade, whatever. This thing could flip a lot sooner than people understand. I think that this is not a situation of when are we going to come out of this or when are we going to be able to compete, I think that could be sooner rather than later."
In early December, when the 76ers shockingly announced the arrival of Colangelo, many assumed that meant he was taking over for Hinkie. Both, along with head coach Brett Brown, have said the effort is going to be a collaborative one. That might be true, but it seem as if things have been progressing quicker since Colangelo's arrival. There has been the hiring of associate head coach Mike D'Antoni, the trade that brought in point guard Ish Smith, the release of Tony Wroten and the signing of veteran forward Elton Brand mainly to be a guide for young bigs Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor and injured Joel Embiid. All the while, Colangelo has been at his home in Phoenix, with constant contact with Brown and Hinkie.
Colangelo has done just about everything in his close to 50 years in the NBA. You got the feeling from the time of his hiring that he wasn't going to proceed at the slow pace that Hinkie was comfortable with.
"I think we're all trying to find the rhythm," Hinkie said. "I've been out to Phoenix a good bit and he's been here on occasion as well and caught up with our team on the road. If anything, I'm a learner, so I've asked a whole bunch of questions, which has been fun. It's been fun to have an outside perspective. We've had many hours where we've got to sit together and talk about where we've been, where we are, the difference in perception and reality and where we're going and how his lessons can help us with where we're going."
Where they want to go isn't the question, as all have said repeatedly they want to be championship contenders for a long time. When it may happen, after three seasons of seemingly endless losing, is at the forefront.
"(2016), it's a big year," Colangelo said. "To look at all the assets and say, 'How do we best utilize them? What do we do here? Do we take a couple of picks and move up? Do we make a trade? Do we look at free agency realistically and see what you can do there?' It's great to be in a position where you have the assets to use. There are a lot of teams in the league you can't say that about. They're kind of locked in to where they are.
"There's one way to go here and that's up. I'm very optimistic. You have to be a little bit lucky, too, in all the things that I'm talking about. I use the expression that the stars have to be aligned and if we have a good alignment, it could happen in 2016. So we could have a turnaround in one year that could surprise people. The assets are in place to potentially make that happen. There's no guarantee. But the thing that you have to do is to give people, I think, hope that this isn't a five-year, look down the road in five years and see where we are. No. I don't see that at all. I see the opportunity here to get big things done over the next year."