As you all know by now, the sale of 76ers by Comcast to New York billionaire hedge-fund guy Joshua Harris was completed yesterday.
While Harris is a very well respected and obviously successful man in the business world, his basketball pedigree is non-existent. So all of Philadunkia nation is very curious and perhaps a little nervous about what kind of moves the Sixers Mark Cuban in-the-making will pull off.
This post is the first in a two part series in which the Philadunkia scribes attempt to predict what changes Harris will make to the 76ers organization. Today will examine the Sixers front office — Rod Thron, Ed Stefanski, Tony DiLeo and Courtney Witte — and try to forecast whether or not these executives will be employed by the 7-6 for the 2011-12 season.
Tom Sunnergren— Meh. Go, I guess. Though we could do a lot worse than Rod Thorn (and have, see: below) we could also do a hell of a lot better on the personnel picking front. And I don’t mean “do better” in some abstract, theoretical straw man sense–I mean we could right now, as I type this, hire Rich Cho, Kevin Pritchard, or any one of a number of thoughtful un/underemployed young basketball heads to come in, do some off-season housecleaning and give Collins an actual NBA roster to work with.
Though Thorn is, to my knowledge, the only NBA executive who’s appeared in a movie with Common, I’m Just not convinced he’s the Wright man for the job. Bow!
Nabeel Ahmadieh— GO. I’m still bitter we didn’t hire Kevin Pritchard for this position (http://philadunkia.com/?p=3893), I think it’s best we cut ties with Thorn sooner rather than later. At 69 years of age, this up-and-coming ball club needs a more enthusiastic President calling the shots and someone here for the long haul. Besides, it’s still mind-boggling how he came into this position after an abysmal 12-70 record leading the New Jersey Nets in 2009-10.
Kevin Jones— Go. Thorn might survive one shortened season. If he ends up staying, Sixers fans will always remember Thorn as the guy who screwed up the Andre Iguodala deal. AI9’s value has peaked and you’re lying to yourself if you think he and Evan Turner can shine together; they both have the same strengths! I was all in favor of flipping Iguodala for Chris Kaman, a top 12 center in the league and then drafting a Chris Singleton type to help replace Iguodala’s defense. Vucevic might pan out. He probably won’t though. The Sixers could’ve easily gotten immediate veteran help instead of another project full of growing pains.
Carey Smith — Go, but delicately. I’ve written and said many times that I want Kevin Pritchard. Thorn has brought nothing to the table here in Philadelphia and his last years at the Nets were not very good either. I am still in shock that he got the job last summer. However, the firing of Thorn needs to be handled very carefully as Collins is a big fan of Thorn’s and really respects the NBA veteran front office man. The last thing I want is for Collins to quit because of a dust up with the new owner over Thorn, so Harris will have to tread lightly here.
Tom Sunnergren— Please, just go. Stefanski is, by all accounts, a very nice man but he’s…do we really have to do this? Have some pride Ed. Just walk away.
Nabeel Ahmadieh— GO. From giving too much money to Andre Iguodala, to signing Elton Brand to a lucrative contract, Stefanski is the reason for our financial mess with little cap flexibility.
Kevin Jones — Go. I don’t see the need for him anymore. He’s a puppet under Rod Thorn. He’s already been demoted. And his contract is up soon. This is the guy who screwed the Sixers cap space for light-years by reaching for Elton Brand – five years, 79 million. I love the way Brand plays; he was instrumental last season. At the time Brand seemed like a necessary move. Still, someone must pay the price down the road when big decisions don’t pan out.
Carey Smith — Go. He’s a great “Philly guy”, but he’s made several mistakes in too short of a tenure. Plus, he’s Thorn’s “guy” or “protege” if you like, so if Thorn is out, then so is his pupil.
Tom Sunnergren — Whatever.
Nabeel Ahmadieh— Stay. Currently the Assistant GM, DiLeo could be the future shot-caller for this franchise. He did a pleasant job as an interim coach during the 2008-09 season after Maurice Cheeks was fired early on. DiLeo went 32-27 during his term, leading the Sixers to the first round of the playoffs.
Kevin Jones — Stay. Most people will remember DiLeo for making a grand entrance on the hardwood back in 2008, when he relieved Mo Cheeks as head coach of the Sixers. DiLeo was 32-27 during his tenure, which included a six seed in the playoffs and two wins over the Orlando Magic in the first round. DiLeo has been a part of the Sixers organization since 1990, holding positions as low as the scouting department and ultimately the spot where he is now. He seems like a good B-man to have around. I would keep Tony D based off of the hard work he’s done to rise up through the organization. Joshua Harris may want to clean house though.
Carey Smith — Stay. In my opinion DiLeo is an excellent NBA front office guy who can wear many hats. He’s well respected in NBA circles, he knows how to handle superstars (see his days with Iverson) and young rookies as well. If you’ve heard him talk, it’s obvious he knows the college game and it’s players. DiLeo also has a very high basketball IQ. He’d make a great second fiddle to Pritchard or anyone else, so it would ideal if Harris can convince whoever gets the GM job to keep DiLeo around.
Tom Sunnergren— Stay. While the Sixers have murdered themselves on the free-agent front the last few (alright, like 20) off-seasons, they’ve done a reasonably good job in the draft. Director of player personnel Courtney Witte has nothing to be ashamed of (except for maybe his name).
Nabeel Ahmadieh— Stay. Witte has been with the organization for 11 seasons. He’s dealt with the ego of Allen Iverson and young rookies like Louis Williams, Thad Young, JrueHoliday and Evan Turner. So his experience covers the spectrum of issues front office types have to deal with in today’s NBA. I don’t see a reason for his departure at this point in his Sixers’ tenure.
Kevin Jones — Go . I honestly have no real opinion on Witte. I guess he’s just guilty by association on some of the monstrosities that have been committed the last few years.
Carey Smith — Stay. Witte’s main job is to have his colleagues prepared for the Draft each year so that they can make the best decision possible. To be honest, the Sixers — under Billy King and Ed Stefanski — have faired very well in the annual crap shoot that is Draft night. Iguodala, Louis, Thad, Holiday and Turner have all been solid picks. It’s not Witte’s fault that Speights is a talented big who has no work ethic or desire to get better, so I won’t fault him too much for that pick. Also I like the Vucevic pick in this year’s Draft. Overall Witte’s resume looks pretty solid and I’d keep him.