Sixers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo has resigned from his post.
The decision comes nine days after The Ringer reported Colangelo could be behind multiple Twitter accounts whose activity included disclosing non-public information and criticizing Sixers players and head coach Brett Brown (see story).
The Sixers launched an independent investigation, which concluded that Barbara Bottini, Colangelo's wife was responsible for "establishing and operating the accounts."
Head coach Brett Brown will oversee basketball operations in Colangelo's absence.
"We appreciate Bryan's many contributions during his time leading our basketball operations and thank him for the work he did in positioning the team for long-term success," Sixers managing partner Josh Harris said in a statement.
"It has become clear Bryan's relationship with our team and his ability to lead the 76ers moving forward has been compromised."
Statement from 76ers Managing Partner Josh Harris: pic.twitter.com/eCmz42FD7P— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) June 7, 2018
Colangelo maintained his innocence and denied any knowledge of his wife's actions in a statement of his own. Read his bizarre defense here.
The Ringer article was published last Tuesday night, sparking days of twists and turns until the final decision was announced. While the Sixers were working on their own investigation, NBA Twitter was doing the same. Conspiracy theories emerged linking Colangelo’s wife to many of the accounts (see story).
Other social media sleuths tried to determine the source of the tip for the article.
NBC Sports Philadelphia’s John Clark spoke with Colangelo on Thursday upon his arrival at Philadelphia International Airport, where Colangelo said he was “fully unaware of anything” related to the situation and “stands by his (previous) statement,” (see story).
Later that night, NBA commissioner Adam Silver said before Game 1 of the NBA Finals, “The first thing we have to do here is determine what the actual facts are in this circumstance.” Silver noted, “It’s not necessarily something that we want to be talking about. But it’s the reality of this league,” (see story).
The publication of The Ringer article sparked a huge response on social media, most noticeably from Joel Embiid (see story). The Sixers' center liked negative tweets about himself from the alleged accounts and delivered his own verified message:
Embiid then tweeted:
Fun night on Twitter lmao.. All jokes asides I don’t believe the story. That would just be insane— Joel Embiid (@JoelEmbiid) May 30, 2018
Colangelo’s tenure with the Sixers was relatively short. The organization hired him in April of 2016, four days after Sam Hinkie resigned as general manager and president of basketball operations through a 13-page letter.
“I just want to be very clear that this is not about a departure from a process, a departure from a strategy,” Colangelo said at his introductory press conference. “This is a moving forward with everything that’s already been established, everything that’s in place, and we’re going to be measured in our continued building of this organization.”
Colangelo was at the helm for the 2016 NBA draft in which the Sixers, after going 10-72 the previous season, landed the No. 1 pick and selected Ben Simmons.
The following year, Colangelo completed a deal that will be debated for the foreseeable future: trading the Sixers' No. 3 overall pick and a future first-round pick to the Celtics in exchange for the No. 1 pick to draft Markelle Fultz and place him alongside Simmons. Fultz suffered a shoulder injury and appeared in just 17 games between the regular season and playoffs. Jayson Tatum, who the Celtics selected at No. 3, was a key piece to their Eastern Conference Finals run and is a Rookie of the Year finalist.
Free agency was a major component in building the Sixers' roster this season. Colangelo stood by the priority of maintaining salary cap flexibility, which will allow the Sixers to be a player in the free-agent hunt this summer for a star like LeBron James. The news of The Ringer report just over a month from the start of free agency, however, created the question of how this information would impact the Sixers in the market.
The timing of the Colangelo decision comes at an unideal part of the NBA schedule. Not only is free agency around the corner, but the Sixers also hold six picks in the draft on June 21.