Back in December, when the Philadelphia 76ers hired Jerry Colangelo as chairman of basketball operations, much of the focus publicly and around the NBA was on what it meant for the future of GM Sam Hinkie and his controversial #Process. That narrative played itself out over the last week, when Hinkie stepped down and Bryan Colangelo, Jerry’s son, was installed as president of basketball operations.
But underneath the surface was another angle that concerned teams around the league. Jerry Colangelo serves as president of USA Basketball and has an enormous amount of influence over the Team USA roster for the Olympics and other international events. Other GMs evidently worried that him joining the Sixers would create a conflict of interest when it came to recruiting top free agents, given that many of the league’s biggest stars are involved with the national team.
According to a new report from The Vertical‘s Adrian Wojnarowski, the NBA heard those complaints and has taken steps to limit Colangelo’s powers with Team USA:
Among rival executives, there was concern that Colangelo’s powerful pathways and year-round lines of communication to elite American players could be leveraged into a free-agent advantage for the 76ers.
Within weeks of Colangelo’s hiring as 76ers chairman of basketball operations in December, the league office informed the NBA Board of Governors of new limitations on Colangelo’s ability to communicate directly to players outside of USA Basketball activities and how much formal impact he can have in the final voting process for national team and Olympic rosters, league sources said.
These are all entirely reasonable measures for the league to take. After Bryan’s hire, Jerry stepped down as chairman, although he still remains a special advisor to Sixers ownership in an official capacity. Given that his son is in charge of the team now, even if Jerry eventually relinquishes that title and severs all official ties with the Sixers, there’s still some gray area as to what kind of influence he could have behind the scenes. Either way, it’s a positive that the NBA is taking action on it before a controversy arises.