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Making sense of the alleged Bryan Colangelo Twitter mess

Making sense of the alleged Bryan Colangelo Twitter mess

The twisted tale of Philadelphia 76ers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo and a handful of seemingly linked Twitter accounts — used to both praise B.C. and, at times, rip some of his Sixers players — seems almost too bonkers to be true.

There’s no way a person in such a prominent and powerful position would use Twitter in such a shady and unprofessional way, right?

But then you go look at the Twitter account of the president of the United States and think again. Just because you’re in a powerful position doesn’t make you a Rhodes Scholar with unshakeable ethics.

As Kevin Garnett used to say, anything is possible.

That’s where this story seems to stand roughly 12 hours after it first broke.

So what do we know?

The Ringer’s Ben Detrick does a pretty fantastic job of laying out the facts that he established. The five accounts have interesting ties to things in Colangelo’s life, such as his son’s college basketball team and a love of normal collars.

But those details are far from a smoking gun. And Colangelo has only owned up to using the one account (@Phila1234567) in the statement he released to the Ringer. He also said he’s “not familiar” with the other accounts, “nor do I know who is behind them or what their motives may be in using them.”

And that could very well be true.

Who wouldn’t put it past some Sam Hinkie acolyte to figure out what Colangelo’s actual burner account was, then to subsequently spend months — years even — setting up a web of similar accounts, all in an effort to make the man who ousted the guy Sixers fans still call their “Once and Always Dark Lord” look like an awful person and unprofessional president? I’d put it in the realm of possibility. 

Where things take the most curious of turns are the actions Detrick outlines that took place after he reached out to the Sixers about only two of the linked accounts.

That afternoon, within hours of the call, all three of the accounts I hadn’t discussed with the team switched from public to private, effectively taking them offline—including one (HonestAbe) that hadn’t been active since December. The Still Balling account, which had been tweeting daily, has not posted since the morning of the 22nd (I had already been following Still Balling with an anonymous account of my own, which allowed me to see activity after it went private). Since I contacted the Sixers, Still Balling has unfollowed 37 accounts with ties to Colangelo, including several of his son’s college basketball teammates, a former coach from his son’s high school, and an account that shares the same name as the agent Warren LeGarie, who has represented Colangelo in the past.

That, my friends, is some wild stuff.

This leads me to think there are three possibilities:

1. Colangelo really did operate all five accounts and isn’t being honest about it

2. Some people very close to Colangelo operated the other accounts

3. A third bonkers scenario that is so wild I haven’t figured it out just yet

So what does it all mean? 

To this point in the story, it means there are some pretty wild theories. But what about people with even more information than the average egg, what do they think?

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski weighed in last night and basketball fans pretty much take his tweets as bible.

Maybe there’s an IT person who can prove it wasn’t Bryan Colangelo, but here’s one of his biggest problems in disputing Ringer story: Those tweets reflected not only private team biz, but launched personal beefs/jealousies/frustrations that he’s shared inside and outside 76ers.

Nevertheless, Colangelo is denying he is responsible for those tweets and many league executives seem to believe this: It is hard to fathom a GM risking his job in such a reckless manner. Many are giving him the benefit of doubt on that level alone. It just doesn’t add up.

If Woj is raising an eyebrow, we raise our collective eyebrow.

It’s also worth noting Joel Embiid’s response. Embiid was obviously criticized by at least one of the burner accounts. While Embiid mocked the burner account in a hilarious tweet that praised Hinkie and ripped Colangelo, he later added he didn’t believe all of this mess to be true.

“I talked to [Bryan Colangelo] and he said that he didn’t say that. He called me just to deny the story. Gotta believe him until proven otherwise. If true though, that would be really bad,” Embiid told ESPN.

A final tweet worth considering from Sixers beat writer Derek Bodner:

I will say this: when around a team every day, you hear a lot of details on background. Going through those alleged burner accounts, were a number of details I hadn't seen reported publicly until now. Have to think there's some connection, in some form, to steer the accounts.

Again, nothing definitive in any of this, but Woj, Embiid and Bodner are tuned-in basketball people with strong track records. It’s information worth considering.

Where do we go from here?

While Colangelo released a statement to The Ringer, the Sixers on Wednesday morning released a strong statement of their own, which highlights the serious nature of this issue:

“An online media outlet filed a story linking multiple social media accounts to 76ers President of Basketball Operations Bryan Colangelo. The allegations are serious and we have commenced an independent investigation into the matter. We will report the results of that investigation as soon as it is concluded.”

Seemingly, we wait for another Embiid-sized shoe to drop. But there are also some pretty gigantic offseason and organizational implications regardless of whether Colangelo is telling the truth or not.

If it is somehow proven that Colangelo really was behind these accounts, there’s no way the owners could allow him to continue to helm a team that he launched an anonymous misinformation campaign against some of its star players. He’d have to go.

And even if it’s never proven true, but not discredited entirely, the negative perception around the NBA will be tough to shake. This has been called the biggest offseason in Sixers history, with the potential to land one of the greatest NBA players of all-time. Talk about awful timing for a scandal. Would a star free agent want to come to a city with this sort of stench hovering over it? And even if the situation is dealt with swiftly, a new president would be thrown into an extremely tough situation with huge enormous consequences for an entire franchise.

But Tuesday night sure was wild on Twitter, wasn’t it?

Trust the independent investigation, I guess.

More on Collargate:

• Report: Bryan Colangelo at center of bizarre Twitter situation

• Sixers launch internal investigation into Bryan Colangelo report

• Bryan Colangelo on Twitter story: 'Someone's out to get me'

Author of Bryan Colangelo Twitter story explains how it all went down

With free agency looming, Sixers better hurry Colangelo investigation

• Joel Embiid reacts to and trolls Bryan Colangelo report

Sixers intend to sign veteran guard

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Sixers intend to sign veteran guard

Veteran guard Marco Belinelli will likely be the newest member of the Sixers.

NBC Sports Philadelphia's Jessica Camerato confirmed Saturday night that the Sixers intend to sign Belinelli. ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski first reported that Belinelli had committed to signing with the Sixers upon clearing waivers. Belinelli agreed to a buyout with the Hawks on Friday.

Belinelli, an 11-year NBA veteran, averaged 11.2 points per game on 37.2 percent three-point shooting this season with Atlanta. 

Brett Brown expressed interest in adding to his bench's scoring, specifically from long range, prior to the trade deadline (see story). Belinelli won the three-point contest in 2014. 

Though the Sixers were linked to several players, Belinelli included, they made no moves before the deadline. Now, it appears the team will look to Belinelli to boost their second-unit offense.  

It looks like Belinelli is excited to join his new team ...

This is not the first time Sixers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo will have made a move to acquire Belinelli. Back in 2009, Colangelo traded for Belinelli from the Warriors while president and general manager of the Raptors. 

At that time, Colangelo said of Belinelli, "Marco fills a void at the wing position where his shooting and scoring strengths will be needed. Marco's versatility and playmaking abilities make him a very valuable piece for us." 

Sixers trade deadline rumor tracker

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Sixers trade deadline rumor tracker

Updated: 12:15 p.m.

There's a parade in town today, in case you hadn't heard.

But it's also the NBA trade deadline, and the Sixers could very well make a move for an additional scorer (see story).

Keep it locked here throughout the day for Sixers updates ahead of the 3 p.m. deadline:

Hesitant to move a first
Tyreke Evans has been connected to the Sixers over the last week, but the all-knowing Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported early Thursday morning that so far, the Sixers, Celtics and Nuggets have resisted parting with a first-round pick for the Grizzlies guard.

"Boston, Denver and Philadelphia have resisted offers beyond either a young player or second-rounder," Woj tweeted. "First-rounders have never been gripped so tightly."

Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot and Richaun Holmes could fall under that "young player" category. TLC isn't a necessity on this team, and Holmes has played eight games since Christmas, yet both have enough promise to intrigue another team.

Cavs-Lakers trade affects LeBron
The Sixers are one of only a few NBA teams with cap space this summer and squads like the Bulls and Hawks won't be signing stars. So there's a dream Sixers fans have of LeBron James coming to Philly.

Well, today's Cavs-Lakers trade makes that more difficult. Cleveland has traded Isaiah Thomas, Channing Frye and its own first-round pick to the Lakers for Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr., per Woj.

The move improves Cleveland defensively, but the real story here is that it gives the Lakers cap space this summer because of the expiring contract element. The Lakers will now have enough cap space to sign two players to max contracts this summer.

So L.A. would become another suitor for LeBron, but also keep in mind that the Cavs' giving L.A. this cap room probably means they know LeBron isn't going there. Cleveland might be showing its hand here, making the assumption that LeBron will stay.

Update: The Cavs weren't done. About an hour later, they acquired George Hill from the Kings and Rodney Hood from the Jazz in a three-team deal. Jae Crowder and Derrick Rose are headed to Utah in the deal, while Joe Johnson goes to Sacramento.

And minutes after that, the Cavs traded Dwyane Wade back to Miami for a heavily-protected second-round pick.

Keep an eye on the seconds
The Sixers currently have four second-round picks in the 2018 NBA draft: 37, 42, 47 and 59.

If the Sixers want someone like Marco Belinelli of the Hawks, it might take two second-round picks. That, after all, is the price the Hawks themselves paid last year to acquire Ersan Ilyasova from the Sixers. Ilyasova and Belinelli have similar values.

Hawks players
Aside from Belinelli, the Sixers also reportedly have interest in Atlanta center Dewayne Dedmon, whose value has never been higher.

Dedmon, 28, is having a career year for the Hawks, averaging 10.0 points, 7.6 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 0.7 blocks. He's shot 56.4 percent from the field, but what sticks out the most is his added floor spacing. Dedmon attempted one three-pointer in his first four NBA seasons. This year, he's averaging 0.7 makes on 1.7 attempts per game, shooting 39.3 percent from deep.

If the Sixers pony up, they could even acquire both Belinelli and Dedmon from the Hawks. They might even be able to get that done with a package of TLC and a couple second-round picks. Belinelli is a free agent at season's end, while Dedmon is on the books for one more year at $6.3 million.