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Plethora of decisions await Colangelo and building 76ers

From possibly trading big man to deciding what to do with top pick, Philly's president of basketball operations has little quiet time

POSTED: Jun 10, 2016 1:35 PM ET

By Scott Howard-Cooper

BY Scott Howard-Cooper


With a glut of big men, the 76ers could decide to trade either Nerlens Noel or Jahlil Okafor before the season.

— The man in the middle of everything for the team in the middle of everything finally found quiet.

Bryan Colangelo, the president of basketball operations for the 76ers, settled into a sideline seat after the final game of the morning session on the first day of adidas Eurocamp, the largest scouting event for international draft prospects. There was a hush as most of the three gyms of the La Ghirada Sports Complex emptied for the lunch break, including the main court where Colangelo had just watched a junior team from the United States play France's under-20 national club. He could exhale.

Except that he couldn't.

Colangelo had arrived the day before from Istanbul after he and 76ers coach Brett Brown watched Dario Saric's team in Turkey in a playoff game Tuesday and met with Saric and Saric's agent Wednesday, trying to get the 12th pick in 2014 to Philadelphia next season. Then Colangelo would scout three days of Eurocamp, where the participants include two possibilities when/if the Sixers pick 24th and 26th on June 23, Croatian center Ante Zizic and French power forward Petr Cornelie. While contemplating innumerable trade options, from among the Philly roster plus three first-round selections in 2016 and multiple No. 1s in future years. And weighing the Ben Simmons-Brandon Ingram close call for the first overall selection in less than two weeks. Before deciding whether it's safe to unwrap Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor for summer league in July.

Draft Combine: Bryan Colangelo

76ers' President of Basketball Operations Bryan Colangelo speaks at the NBA Draft Combine.

There is never such a thing as quiet for the man in charge of personnel for the team that just went 10-72, the worst record in the league by seven games, but especially when he has been on the job two months. No. 1 pick with a strong case to be made for both candidates, looking at trades when the Okafor-Nerlens Noel pairing clearly did not work in 2015-16, trying to maneuver financial constraints to get Saric to the NBA -- Colangelo stepped into a wind tunnel of scenarios.

Trade Okafor or Noel

Embiid should be mentioned as well anytime the conversation is about sorting through the glut of bigs, except that dealing him at this point, after losing what should have been his first two pro seasons to injury, would be at a fire-sale price. Okafor has played and produced on offense. Noel has played and produced on defense. The evidence from 2015-16, though, is that they don't fit well together, leading to trade talks.

"I don't know that there's a likelihood," Colangelo said. "I can't put a number on it. I would just simply tell you that there's been conversations and there's been a lot of interest expressed in some of the players that we have, but nothing that's made enough sense to pull the trigger on. We've talked about the five position in particular."

Trade the No. 1 pick

"It hasn't been in any realistic conversation," Colangelo said. "There's been a few people that have inquired. As I've said before, you never say never in this business. But I would still say it's highly unlikely that the pick is in play in a deal, given the nature of this draft. I've always said you never say never, but I can't imagine a deal coming forward that would stop us from making that selection. What's probably more in play is the 24th and 26th pick, which kind of ties into the notion that we've got a fairly young team. We want to pick up the pace with regards to the winning aspect of basketball games. What we'd like to do is find a way to best utilize those picks to help us achieve that goal. If it happens that we use both and select, it's probably going to be because we didn't have a good alternative in terms of a deal or we felt those players could help us get where we wanted to go."

Trade No. 24 and/or 26

It's obviously an option for a team that could have three highly touted rookies in camp, depending on the outcomes with Saric's contract and Embiid's health, and doesn't need another. The Sixers could deal one or both for a future first-rounder, could use them as part of a trade with an existing player, could trade down or could even package them to trade up.

"It's been discussed," Colangelo said.

Decide between Simmons and Ingram

"You can make an argument either way that Brandon Ingram would fit well and that Ben Simmons would fit well," Colangelo said. "That's the discussion. Those are the conversations that we're having to try to determine not just which player will ultimately have the better career and achieve a higher status, but which player is the best fit as well. It's a combination of things for us. When you look at both it's pretty hard to imagine that either one would be a wrong choice. It's a good position to be in."

Draft: Brandon Ingram

Brandon Ingram from Duke University speaks with NBATV's Kristen Ledlow.

But as far as having made an internal decision?

"I can't tell you that as we sit here on June 10th that a decision's been made by anybody," Colangelo said. "We may be leaning one direction or another. But it's safer to say that you don't have to make a decision until the 23rd."

Find a way to get Saric to the NBA amid financial constraints

"He really showed his full repertoire, everything from some post moves and some good interior passing to an improved shot," Colangelo said of watching Saric on Tuesday. "The perimeter shot looks like it's really coming. He's got a full range of ball skills and passing skills. I think his game will definitely translate to the NBA in a positive way. The timing of him coming to the NBA is still in question. I believe there's a desire on both sides to make it happen sooner rather than later, but at the same time, the contract scenario, economics, etc., etc. all plays a part in that decision making. We'll know soon enough whether it's going to happen for this particular season. That's our goal and our desire. I think in the next few weeks we'll have more clarity."

I would just simply tell you that there's been conversations.

– 76ers' Bryan Colangelo on trade interest in Okafor and Noel

Told that he sounded pessimistic about Saric joining the 76ers for 2016-17, Colangelo replied: "I don't think I'm optimistic or pessimistic. I think I'm just neutral right now. I do (have a gut) but I'm not sure I want to reveal it. I'm hopeful we can get it done. It would be helpful to the organization and I think it would actually be helpful to Dario to kind of get off on the right foot in the league."

Saric has a July 17 deadline in Turkey, Colangelo said, to either commit to another season in Europe or move to the NBA. But Philadelphia would like a resolution, even a disappointing one, weeks earlier to have a clear handle on the roster before free agency.

Decide whether Embiid will play in summer league

"People are just looking for a timeline," Colangelo said. "There's no timeline. But until I hear a doctor tell me 'No summer league,' I will always say anything's open. But the likelihood of him playing summer league is nil. I would only say that because of where he is in the progression right now. But if he makes enough progress and the doctors say he's ready to go there's no reason he shouldn't. But having said that, I would say it's a 99-percent chance, maybe a 100-percent chance, that he's not going to play. We just don't want to put him in a situation where he hasn't been playing competitive basketball. We probably want to ease into that and that would mean sometime after summer league. But if he is going to come into training camp you want him to have at least a little bit of flow and a little bit of rhythm and to be in a position where he could have tested the foot to the extent that he's ultimately going to be exposed in a training-camp environment."

Decide whether Okafor will play in summer league

It's not as simple as saying Salt Lake City, starting July 4, and Las Vegas, starting July 8, in July are not important enough for the risk as the No. 3 pick in 2016 recovers from a knee injury. Okafor is scheduled be on the USA Select team later that month that will help Team USA prepare for the Rio Olympics. If he's going to be in those practices and scrimmages, the warmup of summer league might be a good test of the knee.

"He's down at Duke right now rehabilitating," Colangelo said. "I would say it's also highly unlikely, but we've talked about it. If he was given the green light it might be a really good way for him to get himself ready if he's cleared to play for the Select Team in the mini-camp coming up this summer. I think there's a few targets out there, whether it's coming out to Utah or Las Vegas and practicing with the team. That could be a scenario, where he's getting out on the court and getting a little bit of testing the joint as part of the normal progression. If he is going to participate with the Select Team we want him 100 percent to feel like he's ready to go. Having said that, that's when you rely on your medical experts, to help you through this. As of today, he's made great headway and he's back out on the court and he's getting shots up and he's doing some one-on-one things. We're talking roughly about a training camp for summer league that would happen. I don't think it's going to happen, but if the doctors would give him clearance there's no reason he shouldn't be out there. We've talked with his agents about this. We've talked about those alternatives. If it can happen, great. If it doesn't happen, great. We'll do the right thing for him."

Scott Howard-Cooper has covered the NBA since 1988. You can e-mail him here and follow him on Twitter.

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