Jerry Colangelo talks Joel Embiid's progress, 'guarded optimism' for Sixers

Jerry Colangelo talks Joel Embiid's progress, 'guarded optimism' for Sixers

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — Jerry Colangelo is no stranger to the most elite NBA talent. With roles including chairman of the board for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and USA Basketball Board of Directors Chairman, he is around the best in the game, past and present.

Colangelo has the same objective of success in his position as a special advisor for the Sixers. Following a disappointing 10-win season, the Sixers looked to change directions by landing Ben Simmons with the first overall pick and signing experienced veterans in free agency. They also are anticipating the long-awaited debut of Joel Embiid. 

Rather than making a complete overhaul and throwing mega-dollars at star free agents like Kevin Durant, the Sixers took a step-by-step approach this offseason in building a foundation for their young, developing players. It is a method that can take time, but it's designed with long-term goals for winning. 

"I'm sure that everyone should have optimism," Colangelo told CSNPhilly.com at the Basketball Hall of Fame. "But there's a word I've always used over the years about optimism. It should be guarded optimism because things take time. When you're building teams — and I've had the privilege of doing that quite a few times in my career — you're adding pieces here and there, and then once in a while you strike out and get that last piece. I think where the Sixers are today is, this is the beginning of that particular process, and that is building what everyone would hope to be a championship team."

Two focal points of the Sixers' future are Simmons and Embiid. Simmons, a 6-foot-10 point-forward, is ready to make an impact as a rookie. Embiid, on the other hand, has been waiting two years to play following foot surgeries. Last month Embiid said he feels "100 percent" and plans to participate in training camp. 

"With all of the reports that I've seen and all the footage I've seen in terms of video, it appears that he's headed in the right direction," Colangelo said of Embiid. "I know that everyone's excited about training camp because of all of the new faces. ... The fortunate ability to have the first pick and select Ben Simmons, you put all those new players on paper and to add that to a roster, it's going to be really interesting, exciting to see how it all plays out."

When it comes to incoming international players, Colangelo's involvement with Team USA gave him the opportunity to meet with Dario Saric and Sergio Rodriguez in Rio during the Olympics. Saric, who signed with the Sixers two years after being drafted, had a solid showing for Croatia, while Rodriguez helped Spain win bronze. 

"I thought [Saric] played very well and I complimented him on his performances," Colangelo said. "Both of them showed great enthusiasm about coming to training camp. I think it's going to be exciting to have them in Sixers uniforms very shortly."

In building a roster, teams hope they have a star (or stars) in the making in their organization. The Sixers had just that for over 10 seasons with Allen Iverson, one of the inductees in this year's Hall of Fame class. 

"What sets him apart from so many is that he did it his way," Colangelo said. "It may have been a little counter to what other people would have expected, but give him credit for being a big man as a little man in a big man's game. He made himself known. His presence was felt by anyone on the court, and his numbers speak for themselves. They're off the charts. A long career, a very successful career, and someone who justifiably deserves to be in."

With limited roster spots, Sixers unlikely to use all 4 2nd-round picks

With limited roster spots, Sixers unlikely to use all 4 2nd-round picks

The Sixers have four second-round picks in tonight's NBA draft. It is unlikely they use all of them, and if they do, it’s not without trying to make moves. 
 
The Sixers are slated to select at Nos. 36, 39, 46 and 50. The biggest hurdle: there’s not enough room on the roster to draft and keep all of those picks.

“You’re talking about limited roster spots,” president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo said Monday. “When you include the No. 1 selection, it might be two or three spots that are in question. You look at pick No. 36 and say, ‘Is anyone on the board that could possibly crack the rotation?’ It’s unlikely, but if that presents an opportunity to select someone that we have some confidence in, sometimes players do slide through that first round and you get surprised.”
 
The team has been open about their interest in moving some of the picks for a while now. Back in May at the draft combine, Colangelo said, “It's not to say we're going to make four selections in the second round.” 
 
The Sixers have several options with those picks, for which they have received interest. One route could be packaging the picks to move up in the draft. TNT’s David Aldridge reported the Sixers were offering picks 36 and 39 to get into the 20s (see story)
 
“You could potentially package them (second-round picks) and move up to have a later first-round pick that potentially is a better fit for the current fit for the current roster,” Colangelo said Monday. “Maybe a sure fit as opposed to someone that could just be a question mark at 36.”
 
There is a strong chance the Sixers could use the pick (or picks) for a draft-and-stash situation, similar to what happened when they acquired Dario Saric, wherein a player remains with their international team for now. Last year, the Sixers selected Furkan Korkmaz at No. 26. He played in Turkey this past season and may not join the Sixers until his existing contract is up. The Sixers spent time in Europe visiting Korkmaz and also watched prospective talent while there.  
 
Other possibilities include trading out of this draft with those picks or packing them in a deal to move a current player.

In the case the Sixers use some or all of the picks, they have been hosting pre-draft workouts with projected second-round and undrafted players over the past few weeks at their training complex. 
 
“What we are doing is lining up options and alternatives for those picks and for those selections,” Colangelo said. “We want to be prepared as we are on the clock. The two-minute mark moves fast and we are going to have multiple decisions to make on draft night.”

Report: Sixers looking to trade for a 2nd 1st-round pick

Report: Sixers looking to trade for a 2nd 1st-round pick

It appears the Sixers may not be done wheeling and dealing just yet.

The Sixers are dangling two of their second-round picks — Nos. 36 and 39 — to trade for a second first-round pick, according to TNT's David Aldridge.

Per Aldridge, the Sixers are looking to move into the 20s.

After officially acquiring the No. 1 overall pick in tonight's NBA draft on Monday, president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo hinted the Sixers were interested in obtaining another first-round pick.

"I think whether we are selecting No. 1 or just staying at three, there's been some talk about our interest in acquiring yet another pick," Colangelo said, "and I'm not going to give up those efforts because we have moved up to No. 1."

The Sixers have four second-rounders in tonight's draft and at least a second first-round pick in 2018 (Lakers) or 2019 (Kings) depending on which pick conveys to Boston.

On Wednesday, CSNPhilly.com's Paul Hudrick broke down five potential prospects the Sixers could target late in the first round if they were to trade for a second pick (see story).

With Aldridge's report, there's a real possibility they could get another first-rounder.