It has been a little more than a year since general manager Sam Hinkie handed in his 13-page manifesto declaring his desire to no longer be in charge of the 76ers organization. During the year since his departure and the takeover by Bryan Colangelo, the transition has been smooth and seamless. Whether you're a Hinkie fan or not, that much cannot be debated, and with the organization securing the third pick in June's draft on Tuesday night in New York, it further pounded home that point.
Those who were against the departure of Hinkie naturally soured on the thought of Colangelo taking over, not so much because of his background, but simply because he was replacing a cult figure, of sorts. And those fans were heard from, stating their fear of Colangelo blowing up what Hinkie built because of a desire to move fast, change this, move that, and establish a blueprint in his own way.
For the impatient fans, they welcomed that thinking, as three years of insurmountable losing were enough and the time to turn the tide was yesterday.
In his one season at the helm, Colangelo seems to be balancing both ways quite smoothly with both an eye on improving the team in the present without blowing up what might also be a very profitable future as far as accessing talent.
His three main moves last offseason were to bring in veterans to help out a painfully young team whose primary experience in the NBA revolved around endless losing. In combo guard Jerryd Bayless, Colangelo sought a backcourt partner with Ben Simmons. But that never happened as the two missed the whole season with injuries (except for three game appearances by Bayless). Gerald Henderson is a pro's pro whose daily work ethic could be only beneficial in the locker room and his versatility on the court a welcomed addition for Brett Brown, and Sergio Rodriguez, an international star over in Spain, was looked to for depth in a backcourt thinner than Manute Bol.
They weren't earth-shattering moves. They didn't break the bank. They were meant more for securing a foundation and culture than banking more wins, and one or two could maybe still help in the future.
His trade of Nerlens Noel at the trade deadline perhaps could have gone a little bit better in the eyes of many fans, but getting something in return for someone the team wasn't going to drop big money on was a small win, especially when you consider he would have had to give that money to someone who would have been a backup to Joel Embiid. Jahlil Okafor still remains in limbo, but that was a problem Colangelo inherited and didn't create. We'll have to wait and see how that plays out.
Which brings us to Tuesday's happenings. While the hope was to accumulate two of the top four picks in the next month's draft, the organization came away with No. 3. Kansas all-around forward Josh Jackson seems to be the target of many, but others such as De'Aaron Fox, Jayson Tatum and Malik Monk have been getting plenty of argument as to who fits best.
Some want to trade up and try to secure Markelle Fultz, seen by many (including me) as the best fit for the Sixers. Others want to trade down and secure more assets for the future.
Take it slow.
Colangelo, for now, is doing all of that. He knows the team might have had a playoff shot this past season with just limited health. He has absorbed what might become of Embiid, Simmons and Dario Saric. Perhaps a few free-agent signings, a decent draft and a little overspending would secure a playoff push next season.
The president of basketball operations would certainly like that, but isn't about to risk too much just yet. And that should satisfy everyone.
"We have a few paths to go here," Colangelo said. "It's a little bit of a fork in the road, if you will. We can speed things up by signing a key free agent; we'll see how that plays out. If things play out the way we've talked about, taking measured steps with respects to that organic growth and player development that's going on and taking place. Having two more lottery picks would have kind of changed things a little bit, but not a whole lot. It just would have been another variable in the decisions that we have in front of us.
"As we approach trades, free agency, we're going to be looking at everything and all those options. It's not that we're choosing a path; we haven't signed anyone yet. There are no agreements in place. There are no decisions in that regard. We're evaluating the free-agent class right now. We're evaluating the draft class right now. We're just excited that we're in a position to add talent one way or the other.
"With cap space, with the draft, with all the things that we have in front of us, we have good tools. We have good developing talent behind us, a lot of things that we can be very excited about."
Measured. Organic. Evaluating. Those are all traits that Colangelo shares with his predecessor. Looking to move forward a little quicker via trade and free agency, without debilitating the future, is what Colangelo also envisions.