By Jack Ryan
Things have changed dramatically in Sixerworld since Jerry Colangelo came in to run the operation last month and Mike D’Antoni was added to Brett Brown’s coaching staff.
It’s hard to imagine that if D’Antoni or Colangelo were in place last June, the Sixers would have passed on 7-3 Latvian Kristaps Porzingis (above with Sixer Jah Okafor) with the third pick in the draft and let him slip to the Knicks.
D’Antoni and Colangelo are devotees of the international game.
Philly ownership was gung-ho to take one of the Big 3 — Karl-Anthony Towns, Jahlil Okafor or D’Angelo Russell — because taking another unknown European project may not have sat well with a disenchanted fan base.
As the New York Post has reported, Knicks president Phil Jackson would have done the same thing as Sixers GM Sam Hinkie — chosen Okafor over Porzingis. According to a source, the Knicks were still concerned about Okafor’s “defense, lack of shot-blocking ability and poor lateral speed,” but still had him higher on the board than Porzingis.