The Philadelphia 76ers ownership group, including CEO Scott O’Neill, met for several hours in New York on Tuesday evening to discuss whether the findings of a probe into president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo necessitate his firing, league sources told ESPN.
A decision could be reached as soon as Wednesday, league sources said.
The Sixers retained the law firm of Paul/Weiss to investigate several secret Twitter accounts that have been tied to Colangelo and his wife, Barbara. Investigators interviewed Colangelo, 53, and his wife separately for several hours Sunday and Monday, league sources said.
Colangelo has professed no knowledge of his wife’s alleged year-plus of unleashing privileged information and attacks on Sixers players, coaches and former and rival executives, sources said. The Sixers ownership is struggling to separate Colangelo from his wife, if she indeed posted those remarks.
The tweets included defenses of Colangelo’s job performance and disparaging comments about superstar Joel Embiid and Colangelo’s predecessor with the Sixers, Sam Hinkie, as well as Colangelo’s successor as president of the Toronto Raptors, Masai Ujiri. Other tweets alluded to sensitive information about events leading to rookie Markelle Fultz‘s bizarre, season-long shooting yips.
The tweets mentioned that the Sixers have video footage, presumably from their practice facility, of Fultz’s trainer, Keith Williams, instructing Fultz to shoot while sitting on a chair and lying on his back. Only a small circle of Sixers would have been privy to that information.
Regardless of Colangelo’s future, the Sixers are prepared to make coach Brett Brown front and center in the July free-agent presentations, league sources said. Brown has constructed a tremendous reputation among NBA players, and he played an integral part in the 76ers’ free-agent acquisitions of JJ Redick, Marco Belinelli and Ersan Ilyasova. The hiring of Monty Williams, a former Team USA assistant, as his lead assistant coach also will be impactful in free-agent conversations. Williams has strong relationships with star players throughout the league.
The Sixers could turn to assistant general managers Marc Eversley and Ned Cohen to navigate the Sixers through the June 21 draft and July free agency. The Sixers plan to pursue free agents LeBron James and Paul George with a maximum contract slot.
Colangelo’s tenure with the Sixers has been fraught with controversy. His father, Jerry, was hired as chairman of basketball operations in December 2015, with Hinkie stepping down from his positions as head of basketball operations and GM in April 2016. Days after Hinkie’s resignation, Bryan Colangelo was hired to replace him in those roles, at which point Jerry Colangelo resigned from his post as chairman but stayed on as a special adviser to the team.
Bryan Colangelo traded the No. 3 overall pick and a future first-round pick to the Boston Celtics for the No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 NBA draft. Boston selected star forward Jayson Tatum at No. 3, and Philadelphia moved up to take guard Fultz at No. 1 overall.
Charges of nepotism and that so-far failed trade have played a factor in the Sixers fan base’s cool feelings about the Colangelo family.