On the Beat: Brown, Colangelo See Key Time of Year on Horizon

by Brian Seltzer
Sixers.com Reporter

PHILADELPHIA - Jerry Colangelo continues to make himself present and available in Philadelphia on a regular basis.  He attended the Sixers’  back-to-back set of home games Thursday and Friday against Washington and Oklahoma City, respectively.  

Less than a month remains in Colangelo’s first regular season acting as the organization’s Chairman of Basketball Operations.  Brett Brown acknowledged Friday at The Center that the tone of talks between himself, Colangelo, and the rest the front office have recently started to change, and will continue to do so as a critical juncture of the year approaches.

“I think it just gets a little bit more interesting, because the conversation gets more real,” Brown said.  “Names get associated with prospective draft picks that we’re studying now that the [NCAA] Tournament’s going on.  The end is near where you’re looking at our existing players and how we’re going to respond to some of the people that are out of contract.  You start talking a little bit more seriously about some of the free agent strategies.  You start talking a little more seriously about the Joel Embiid situation, and Dario [Saric] situation, how it all fits.”

“The design, the collaborative discussion with me, and [President of Basketball Operations and General Manager] Sam [Hinkie], and [Co-Managing Owner] Josh [Harris], and Jerry just heats up.  It gets a little bit closer, a little bit more real, a little bit more detailed.”

Colangelo agreed with Brown’s notion that the Sixers will soon be confronted with critical opportunities to mold the squad for the long-term.

“What takes place in a season is that there’s always anticipation when you go to training camp,” Colangelo said Friday.   “First of all, you have a clean slate.  There’s no wins, no losses.  There’s optimism, and things happen.  You either get off to a good start or you don’t. You either have a good season or you don’t, and a lot of variables come into play.  Injuries are a big part of our business, and if you have a lot of bad luck in that area, it’s going to affect your season.”

“Number two, I think it’s important to recognize that when you get to a point in the season where...the season is winding down, you’re now looking for some of the things that are important to your future.  That’s the draft, that’s free agency, that’s the next season.  And the preparation, although it’s an ongoing activity over the course of the year, it really starts to pick up and heighten in the last quarter of the NBA season, and leading up to what takes place in the summer. “

Since joining the Sixers on December 7th, Colangelo has spent almost three and a half months getting acclimated to and involved with the team.  The Sixers are the third NBA franchise  he has served in his near-five decade career in the league.  

Colangelo broke into the NBA with his hometown Chicago Bulls in 1966, then went on to help get Phoenix up and running for its inaugural campaign in 1968-1969.  Colangelo stayed with the Suns until 2012.  Along the way, he gained ownership control,  and received four NBA Executive of the Year honors.

Despite being with the Sixers for a relatively brief period of time, Colangelo believes the team has already put several advantageous infrastructural elements in place.  He credited Hinkie and Sixers’ management.

“I think what’s really happened in professional sports is that the organizations have become much more sophisticated, and technology is playing more and more of a significant role in team operations,” Colangelo said.  “I think in that area, in that space, the Sixers are right on the cutting edge, and that’s because of the people leading that cause.  I think that is a big part of the future of the sport.   You can only, until we raise the basket or lower the floor or do something crazy to change the game, it’s going to be about trying to be as technical as you can, and getting a little bit of an edge.  That’s where it comes from.  I think the analytical part is where it will set certain teams apart from others.”

Now, with key decisions looming on the horizon, Colangelo will have the chance to put his Hall of Fame perspective and experience to further use with the Sixers.  After being out of the NBA in a formal capacity for nearly three years, he feels comfortable in increasingly familiar surroundings.

“First of all, basketball’s been my life, and it’s been a passion for all of that time, so I never really felt I was out of the whole thing,” he said.  “Through USA Basketball, as Chairman, and through chairmanship of the Basketball Hall of Fame, I’ve been around and involved, and also with Grand Canyon University, where I’ve been very involved with the athletic program, and naming a former player of mine, Dan Majerle, the head coach.  I’ve been around this whole thing, the world of sports, without a break, and stayed in touch with all the NBA people.  So, it wasn’t as big a transition as some people might think.  It just made it more official when I accepted the role as Chairman of Basketball Operations for the Sixers.”

This week’s visit marked Colangelo’s fourth public appearance in the region since January.  He lives in Phoenix throughout the year.

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