Inside the 76ers: With draft order up in air, Colangelo keeps options open

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New Sixers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo.

CHICAGO - Bryan Colangelo has been a great sound bite.

The 76ers' new president of basketball operations expressed many times that he hasn't ruled out anything in next month's NBA draft - including trading a top pick. His candidness has drawn headlines and fan reaction.

But what he usually says afterward is often ignored. Perhaps that is because it's obvious and somewhat boring.

"The lottery will define what we have to work with," Colangelo has said repeatedly. "It will bring more definition to the draft status. It will bring more definition to the future implications to some of those picks."

Poll

Who is the more desirable pick for the 76ers?

Translation: The Sixers aren't ruling out anything at this time. But the team will have a better idea of what it wants to do after the draft lottery Tuesday.

That's when they'll begin to assess things. There will be teams with interest in the Sixers' draft picks. There will be teams that will reaffirm interest in current Sixers Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor.

The Sixers are expected to make some sort of move, especially if they get four first-round picks. With a lot of developing players already taking up minutes, the team knows that adding four more rookies could be a mistake. They would be better off acquiring veteran players to balance things.

"So we will look at everything," Colangelo said.

But they won't know for sure until the full draft order is set. And that will happen between 7:57 and 8:30 p.m. Tuesday at the New York Hilton Midtown.

The Sixers have a 26.9 percent chance - the best of all NBA teams - to end up with the top pick by finishing with the worst record and having the right to swap first-round picks with Sacramento. They also have a 67.8 percent chance to finish in the top three and will place no lower than fourth with their initial pick.

The Sixers will get the Los Angeles Lakers' first-round pick if it doesn't finish in the top three at the lottery. They also have the 24th (from Miami) and 26th (from Oklahoma City) picks.

The best-case scenario for the Sixers would be acquiring the first and fourth picks. But what if they got the fourth and fifth picks? It would be hard to condemn them for trading a pick in that scenario.

This is considered a two-person draft, with Louisiana State forward Ben Simmons and Duke small forward Brandon Ingram the top choices. Multiple league scouts have said they will be good players, but not franchise-altering megastars like LeBron James and Kevin Durant.

They'll be off the board by the third pick. So why not consider trading away a fourth or fifth pick?

"With so much flexibility, we're a team that everybody wants to talk to, because we've got good young developing pieces," Colangelo said. "We've got draft picks, and those assets equal value."

That value, combined with options and alternatives, leads to conversations that stimulate trade activity.

But the Sixers shouldn't just trade them for the sake of making a trade. They shouldn't give up a top-five pick for a household name with two seasons of quality basketball left in the tank. They had better get some assurance that Joel Embiid will be a viable player before shipping out Okafor. And you need to get a floor-running rim protector with endless energy or a player of equal value at another position before parting ways with Noel.

The Sixers' goal is to build a championship contender in Philadelphia, not race to the middle of the pack. That's why the Sixers, who finished 10-72 this season, are publicly talking about taking incremental steps in this rebuilding process.

And that's not just for this draft. They plan to take steps for the next several years. But the process could speed up if the right opportunity comes along. That's why the Sixers are saying everything's on the table.

"We're just not good enough right now as a team to hold anything back," Colangelo said.

kpompey@phillynews.com

@PompeyOnSixers

www.philly.com/sixersblog

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