Philadelphia 76ers team president Bryan Colangelo is in the midst of an investigation into anonymous Twitter accounts that have reportedly been linked to him. According to ESPN.com and Philly.com, the investigation is ongoing, but it may not end well for Colangelo.
According to both websites, some league sources say that Colangelo may lose his job as Sixers president as a result of the incident. The Ringer website alleged in a report Tuesday night that Colangelo is connected to anonymous Twitter accounts that have revealed sensitive team information and criticized players and coach Brett Brown.
Per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe, the Sixers have focused their investigation on Colangelo's wife, Barbara Bottini, and her possible connection with the burner Twitter accounts:
As a Philadelphia 76ers internal probe into anonymous Twitter accounts has become increasingly focused on the wife of president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo, franchise ownership is seriously considering Colangelo's dismissal, league sources told ESPN.
Colangelo, a two-time past NBA Executive of the Year, has discussed with ownership and upper management the possibility that his wife, Barbara Bottini, may have been involved in the postings of the tweets from so-called burner accounts, league sources said.
So far, Philadelphia ownership has shown little, if any, inclination to separate Colangelo's culpability in the matter should a family member or close associate be proven responsible for the postings, league sources said.
While many of Colangelo's staff with the Sixers are bracing for his dismissal, some are still holding on to hope that he can somehow survive this firestorm with this job, sources say.
Keith Pompey of Philly.com reports that Colangelo has not been absent for the last two days of the agent-run predraft workouts being held on the West Coast this week. In addition, a league source told Pompey that Colangelo was visably shaken when the report broke while he was attending the workout in Los Angeles.
Some league sources expect Colangelo to lose his job as the Sixers president of basketball operations.
The Sixers announced the investigation on Wednesday morning in a written statement. As a result, Colangelo was not on hand for that day’s multiple workouts at the Sports Academy in Los Angeles, according to sources. Sources said Colangelo, who turned 53 today, also did not attend Thursday’s multiple workouts in Las Vegas.
Numerous players and league sources suggested in the last two days that it will be difficult for Colangelo to keep his position with the Sixers as a result of the report.
“The only way that he’ll get out of it is if he comes with evidence that somebody set him up,” said a league executive, speaking on condition of anonymity. “If it is out there where they can’t prove either way, I don’t think he’ll keep his job. And if there’s involvement with a family member, it doesn’t look like he has a chance either.”
The source added, unless the perpetrator made some mistakes, it would be hard to definitively prove who tweeted out the information.
According to ESPN's league sources, the Sixers also commissioned an outside law firm to investigate the matter, an investigation that has already included Colangelo surrending his cell phones. In addition, league sources told ESPN that Colangelo has told close associates he knows who made the tweets. But he also insisted to those inside and outside of the investigation that he had nothing to do with the tweets and was unaware of them until The Ringer brought them to the team's attention prior to publishing the story.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver responded the Colangelo/Sixers issue at his Finals news conference Thursday, saying the investigation will be get done, but not by cutting corners.
“Well, for the league there is always that balance of speed and doing things in a deliberate and appropriate way,” Silver said. “So I have talked to management at the 76ers, and the notion here was let’s find out what’s going on.
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“So, of course, from the league standpoint, here we are, Game 1 of The Finals, it’s not necessarily something we want to be talking about, but it’s the reality of this league,” Silver added. “So I have no information beyond that other than that investigation is underway.”
The Sixers started their investigation into tweets linked in a report to Colangelo that criticized Sixers players Joel Embiid and Markelle Fultz, among other NBA figures.
The burner accounts also took aim at former Sixers general manager Sam Hinkie, Toronto Raptors executive Masai Ujiri and former Sixers players Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel, according to a report by The Ringer website.
"The allegations are serious and we have commenced an independent investigation into the matter," the Sixers said Wednesday in a statement. "We will report the results of that investigation as soon as it is concluded."
The website asked the team about five Twitter accounts it suspected Colangelo was operating. He said in a statement that he used one of the accounts to monitor the NBA industry and other current events, but that he was "not familiar with any of the other accounts" brought to his attention and that he didn't know who was "behind them or what their motives may be in using them."
Embiid, the 24-year-old All-Star center, tweeted that he didn't believe the report.
"I don't believe the story. That would just be insane," he wrote.
Colangelo was hired as president of basketball operations for Philadelphia in April 2016. He served as Toronto's general manager from 2006-2013.
Colangelo, the son of longtime sports executive Jerry Colangelo, stepped in with the Sixers after Hinkie resigned. He lost his GM job in Toronto after the Raptors missed the playoffs for the fifth consecutive season, and Ujiri took over basketball operations.
According to The Ringer, one of the Twitter accounts it connected to Colangelo downplayed Hinkie's role in the franchise's turnaround. It also lamented in another post that Ujiri hadn't done anything to make the Raptors better.
Another account accused Embiid of "playing like a toddler having tantrums," and one criticized Fultz for his work with his "so called mentor/father figure."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.