May 29, 2018, is a day that will live in infamy among Sixers fans.
One year ago, an article was published by the Ringer’s Ben Detrick which connected then-president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo to multiple Twitter accounts. Those who weren’t familiar with the term “burner account” learned in a hurry. It all led to Colangelo resigning from his post after an internal investigation.
If Collargate was the scandal we all wanted, then “Lakers 2.0” is the sequel we all needed. What Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka reportedly did to the Lakers makes what the Colangelo conglomerate did to the Sixers look like mere child’s play.
Who would’ve thought when the Sixers missed out on LeBron James that they’d appear to be in better shape than the team that landed him less than a year later?
Much like Detrick, ESPN’s Baxter Holmes wrote an explosive article outlining serious dysfunction in the Lakers’ attempt to return their organization to its previous glory.
Johnson and Pelinka were able to sign James and crafted it as a masterstroke. Like they were the ones that sold James on choosing them over a team like the Sixers and it wasn’t solely because of geography. According to the story, the Lakers got more than they bargained for with James and all that comes with the superstar.
It was eerily similar to some of the stories that came out of Collargate. It was ironic that commissioner Adam Silver intervened with The Process, forcing the Sixers to bring in Jerry Colangelo, which led to the resignation of Sam Hinkie. The Colangelos were meant to come in and provide stability and instead created an even bigger mess. Beyond the scandal, Colangelo whiffed on several roster moves, most notably Markelle Fultz, that the Sixers felt the pain of this season.
Johnson was expected to provide a similar stability, with Pelinka helping with the minutia of dealing with agents and the numbers. After the duo landed James, they made a series of peculiar moves, signing guys like Lance Stephenson and Michael Beasely — talented players that never quite lived up to their potential and came with plenty of baggage. Then the Anthony Davis saga happened where any remotely talented young player on the roster was publicly dangled. It all culminated in the Lakers missing the playoffs, firing their coach — which then resulted in a disastrous coaching search — and now an offseason of uncertainty.
Thankfully for the Sixers, they have the most stability — at least from a front office standpoint — they’ve had in forever. They’re coming off back-to-back 50-win seasons. Brett Brown returns for his seventh season as head coach. Elton Brand gets his first real offseason as GM. The team has two young All-Stars that should be plenty motivated this offseason.
Sure, we have no idea what’s going to happen with Jimmy Butler or Tobias Harris or even JJ Redick. The Sixers only have five players under contract: Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Zhaire Smith, Jonah Bolden and Jonathon Simmons (who likely won’t be back since only $1 million of his deal is guaranteed).
But even with all the roster certainty, at least they’re not the Lakers right now.
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