Adam Silver

Report: Sixers mull Bryan Colangelo dismissal as Twitter probe focuses on wife

Report: Sixers mull Bryan Colangelo dismissal as Twitter probe focuses on wife

While the NBA Finals got off to a hot start, things also appear to be picking up in the Sixers’ investigation of the reported Bryan Colangelo Twitter saga.

Per a report early Friday morning by ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe, the Sixers are seriously considering dismissing their president of basketball operations as the probe has become increasingly focused on Colangelo’s wife.

“The probe hasn't been completed — and a final decision has yet to be rendered — but the fallout a report by The Ringer that connected Twitter accounts unleashing privileged information and provocative attacks surrounding the Sixers has left ownership flushed with embarrassment and anger — and Colangelo fighting for his professional life, league sources said,” the report states.

The news has already gotten the attention of the highest level at the league office. NBA commissioner Adam Silver addressed the situation during a press conference prior to Game 1 of the Finals.

“For the league there’s always that balance of speed and doing things in a deliberate and appropriate way,” Silver said (see story). “And so I have talked to management at the 76ers and the notion here was, let’s find out what’s going on. And I said, in anything we’ve dealt with over the years, I think you have to separate sort of the chatter and sort of what either fans or frankly the media are saying from the facts. And the first thing we have to do here is determine what the actual facts are in this circumstance.”

While Silver kept his response as direct as possible, he did admit the scenario was “not necessarily something that we want to be talking about” as the league’s championship clash tipped off on Thursday.

Colangelo himself wasn’t in much of a talking mood either. NBC Sports Philadelphia’s John Clark caught up with Colangelo at Philadelphia International Airport earlier in the day, where the front office exec maintained his innocence.

Colangelo told Clark that he “stands by his (previous) statement” and is “fully unaware of anything” related to the scandal (see story)

Colangelo found himself at the center of this bizarre incident on Tuesday when The Ringer’s Ben Detrick released a report that tied the Sixers’ president to five Twitter accounts. The accounts at times criticized NBA players that included Sixers, debated coaching decisions by his own staff, critiqued front office moves of Sam Hinkie and Toronto successor Masai Ujiri, telegraphed the Markelle Fultz trade and disclosed non-public information on players to members of the media (see story).

While Colangelo admitted to using one of the accounts (@Phila1234567) for reference purposes, he denied any connection to the four others.

“Like many of my colleagues in sports, I have used social media as a means to keep up with the news,” Colangelo said in his initial statement to The Ringer. “While I have never posted anything whatsoever on social media, I have used the @Phila1234567 Twitter account referenced in this story to monitor our industry and other current events. This storyline is disturbing to me on many levels, as I am not familiar with any of the other accounts that have been brought to my attention, nor do I know who is behind them or what their motives may be in using them.”

Colangelo doubled down on his denial to players and various media outlets over the course of the next few days.

"Someone's out to get me,” Colangelo said Wednesday to Jordan Schultz of Yahoo! Sports (see story).

Whether that claim is true or not, Colangelo appears on the verge of being got.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver responds to Bryan Colangelo investigation

NBA commissioner Adam Silver responds to Bryan Colangelo investigation

The NBA has reached out to the Sixers regarding The Ringer report intimating president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo could be linked to multiple Twitter accounts and the team’s independent investigation around it. 

NBA commissioner Adam Silver addressed the media at Oracle Arena prior to Game 1 of the Finals between the Cavaliers and Warriors. When asked about the league’s contact with the Sixers as well as its eagerness for a resolution, Silver responded:  

“For the league there’s always that balance of speed and doing things in a deliberate and appropriate way. And so I have talked to management at the 76ers and the notion here was, let’s find out what’s going on. And I said, in anything we’ve dealt with over the years, I think you have to separate sort of the chatter and sort of what either fans or frankly the media are saying from the facts. And the first thing we have to do here is determine what the actual facts are in this circumstance.

“I know the first thing that (Sixers managing partner) Josh Harris and his ownership group did was when presented with that story, which I believe came as a surprise to them, was to engage an outside law firm, a New York firm, that specializes in these types of investigations and said here’s all the information we have. Our organization, all of us, are available to you, and I know that includes Bryan Colangelo. And with deliberate speed, but don’t cut any corners, let us know what’s going on.”  

The Ringer article, published Tuesday, suggests a connection between Colangelo and five Twitter accounts, many of which posted criticisms of Sixers players (past and current), head coach Brett Brown, and disclosed non-public information. The Sixers announced the following morning the team had launched an investigation. 

On Thursday, Colangelo arrived at the Philadelphia International Airport, where he told NBC Sports Philadelphia’s John Clark he “stands by his (previous) statement,” which was published in the article. Colangelo also said he is “fully unaware of anything” related to the situation (see story)

The NBA Finals began the same night. 

“Of course from a league standpoint, here we are Game 1 of the Finals, it’s not necessarily something that we want to be talking about,” Silver said. “But it’s the reality of this league. And so I have no information beyond that other than that investigation is underway.”

Leave the NBA playoffs alone

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USA Today Images

Leave the NBA playoffs alone

You can't kill NBA commissioner Adam Silver for trying.

Last week, Silver announced to the media during All-Star weekend in Los Angeles that he's considering a change to the playoffs, where rather than the top eight seeds in each conference competing to determine a conference champ, playoff teams will be seeded 1 through 16.

More recently, ESPN reported that the league is kicking around a "play-in tournament" to determine the final two seeds in each conference.

Let's take these ideas one at a time:

Re-seeding the postseason may sound fun, and even kind of fair, but it completely dissolves conference rivalries that the league has celebrated for decades. Looking for the Warriors and Rockets in the Western Conference Finals? Sorry. Under the new format, there would be no more West Finals. Right now, those are the two best teams in the NBA. So you might see them in the Finals in that format — if they both get that far.

I could understand this argument in years when the disparity in balance of power is egregious. That's not the case this season. If the NBA season ended today, one team would reap the benefits of a 1-16 playoff format: the 9-seed in the West, the Clippers, who are a half-game better than Eastern Conference 8-seed Miami.

(Psst, right now the 5-12 matchup in a 1-16 format would be Sixers-Cavaliers. But let's stay on topic.)

As for the play-in tournament, this completely contradicts the re-seeding idea. The NBA wants the best teams in the playoffs, right? Is a Pistons-Hornets play-in game must-see TV? Or what's left of the Clippers vs. the Jazz?

And how long do you want the postseason to be? Last season, the playoffs lasted nearly nine weeks. It was only that "brief" because the Finals didn't go the full seven games. Adding another round could extend the NBA season into July (unless it corresponds with a shortening of the schedule). We have seen what happens in Olympic years when players don't get enough offseason rest and it ain't pretty.

I'm guessing this is a backhanded way for Silver to keep more teams from tanking for better draft picks. "Hey, you may be 11th in the conference, but you're one 3-game win streak away from a shot at the postseason!!"

I'm all for change, but in the case of the NBA playoffs, commish, I think we're good for now.