Thursday, February 16, 2017

Lack of transparency still an issue for the Sixers

It might have been the biggest factor that led to former Sixers' general manager Sam Hinkie being pushed out the door.  Media members complained about Hinkie’s reluctance to speak on the record and hold press conferences.  Agents reportedly did not like dealing with him given his knack for team-friendly bargains when it came to negotiating contracts. He did not have the relationships across the NBA that were necessary to quell some of these fears about his reputation after the Sixers tanked three consecutive seasons.  All of this resulted in the Sixers' ownership group minimizing Hinkie which ultimately led to a change in the front office.

                                                                 Yong Kim/
Colangelo has not been forthcoming in
his short time working for the Sixers so far.
Many felt that Bryan Colangelo was hired last April to help fix the image of a franchise that won 47 games in three seasons. It seemed as if ownership’s belief was that Hinkie set the organization up for future success in reshaping the roster with several lottery picks, but that he was not the man for the next step of the rebuild. Colangelo’s name carried more weight. He won the NBA’s Executive of the Year award in 2005 with the Phoenix Suns and in 2007 with the Toronto Raptors. His father Jerry, who helped facilitated the transition, worked as the Chairman of USA Basketball for over a decade and had tons of connections around the NBA.

Less than a year into Colangelo’s tenure as the Sixers' President of Basketball Operations, things haven’t quite been so transparent. The team has dealt with a myriad of injuries during the last four years. This season, Colangelo has not been very upfront in disclosing the details of several injuries, namely involving the team’s two clear building blocks for the future. Most recently, news broke that Joel Embiid had a minor meniscus tear. Embiid has not played since January 27 against Houston, a game that was nationally televised. Shortly after that game, the Sixers leaked that Embiid was day-to-day thanks to a bone bruise in his left knee. However, the recent report by Derek Bodner cited that the minor meniscus tear was discovered in an MRI after the Sixers defeated the Portland Trail Blazers on January 20.

In late September, just weeks before the 2016-17 season began, last year’s number one overall pick Ben Simmons suffered a fracture of the fifth metatarsal bone of his right foot. From the moment Simmons suffered the injury, the team was very mum on a timetable.  In October, head coach Brett Brown had to backtrack on an initial statement indicating Simmons would return at some point in January. It’s the middle of February, and there’s no sign of when Simmons may play for the Sixers and speculation is growing that it won’t be until the start of next season.

On top of the ambiguity surrounding both Embiid and Simmons’ injuries, another issue for the Sixers has been the inability to get a Jahlil Okafor trade finalized. Ten days ago, several NBA reporters claimed the Sixers were in “advanced talks” with the New Orleans Pelicans for Okafor. Later last week, the Bulls emerged as the favorite to land Okafor. On Saturday, during a win against the Miami Heat, Okafor was seen hugging several teammates on the sideline, which was an indication that a trade was imminent. After the game, Brown said that trade rumors were the reason Okafor did not play. The big man out of Duke did not make the trip with the Sixers for Monday’s win in Charlotte against the Hornets. Yet on Tuesday night, when a trade still had not been completed, Okafor rejoined the Sixers in Boston and played in last night’s game against the Celtics. The team still has one week until the February 23 trade deadline, but this is certainly not a good look for Colangelo, regardless of how it ends. Whatever was going on in his trade negotiations, after almost everyone believed a trade was on the horizon, it is now unclear when or if Okafor will be traded.

It’s anybody’s guess as to when Embiid will next play for the Sixers, when Simmons will debut for the Sixers, and what team Jahlil Okafor will be playing for after the trade deadline. It’s not supposed to be that way, but Bryan Colangelo has made it that way. For someone that was supposed to clean up the organization’s transparency issues, Colangelo has done a horrendous job.

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