76ers prez Thorn: Sale won't affect draft

June 21, 2011 4:45:32 PM PDT
The "For Sale" sign remains planted in the Philadelphia 76ers' yard.

The "Help Wanted" ad is out for a big man.

While the wait for new owners to buy the team from Comcast-Spectacor stretches into another week, the Sixers are confident they can find the frontcourt help they need in Thursday's NBA draft.

Team president Rod Thorn calls the days leading up to the draft business as usual with the Sixers holding their final workouts before deciding what player - Lithuanian 7-footer Donatas Motiejunas, perhaps? - to take with the 16th pick in the first round. The Sixers also hold the 50th pick in the second round.

Thorn said after Tuesday's final workout the Sixers have no serious interest in trying to trade up in the draft.

But, the Sixers are willing to deal.

Thorn confirmed the Sixers are discussing trades for swingman Andre Iguodala, long the No. 1 subject of trade rumors, and have initiated those talks with some teams. Thorn described some conversations as meaningful, others not so much.

Thorn also said the potential sale of the franchise will not affect the way management approaches the draft of potential trades. People familiar with the deal told The Associated Press this month the Sixers could be sold to a group led by New York-based leveraged buyout specialist Joshua Harris.

Thorn has met with members of the ownership group that wants to buy the team.

"They have questions about how we do things, why we do things, what we think of our personnel, what we think we need. Those type of information-type questions," he said. "At this point, that's not being divulged as to exactly how they stand or how they will operate, because until they actually take over there isn't a lot to do about that or say about that."

Thorn said "it's too hard to tell" if the Sixers will pull off a trade, blockbuster or otherwise, by the end of draft night. If Iguodala isn't dealt soon, odds are he might stick around next year mostly because of the uncertain labor situation.

The league's collective bargaining agreement is set to expire at the end of the month and NBA owners and players met again Tuesday for another big day of negotiations. The Sixers player representative is Jason Kapono, but he missed most of last season for personal reasons and is a free agent. Elton Brand said he's assumed the unofficial role of team rep.

Thorn, running his first draft since taking over last August, could have been on the job only a few hours and known the Sixers need a serious low-post presence. Motiejunas and Kansas forward Markieff Morris both worked out for the Sixers and could still be around at 16. Texas power forward Tristan Thompson also could be available when the Sixers pick.

"So to say that we're going to pick big, there's a good chance that we will," Thorn said, "But we also may not."

All of those scenarios might not matter if the Sixers do, finally, trade Iguodala.

Iguodala, the ninth overall pick in the 2004 NBA draft, never blossomed into the franchise player that the Sixers hoped he would become. He has three years left on an $80-million, six-year contract and was noncommittal the day after the season ended about wanting to return to the Sixers. He skipped his exit meetings with team officials and refused to tell the media he wanted to return, offering not much more than, "I never said I didn't want to be here."

He never said he did, either.

Thorn has kept in touch with Iguodala throughout the offseason.

"He's always said that he would like to stay," Thorn said. "He's never said that he would like to be traded - to me."

Philadelphia has won only one playoff series since losing to the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2001 NBA finals. This year, the Sixers won 41 games and stretched the Miami Heat to a five-game playoff series in Doug Collins' first season as coach.

By the end of the month, the Sixers could be without Iguodala, owner Ed Snider and assistant coach Quin Snyder.

Snyder, who spent last year as assistant coach, appears to be leaning toward accepting an offer to join the Los Angles Lakers and Mike Brown's staff.

"He may be going someplace else," Thorn said. "That hasn't been decided yet. He did a really good job for us."

Three city stars worked out for the Sixers, but none expect to be drafted. Villanova guards Corey Stokes and Corey Fisher and Temple forward Lavoy Allen, the school's career leading rebounder, at best are late second-round picks.

Wildcats coach Jay Wright said Stokes and Fisher will land somewhere, even if it's not on the draft board.

"They've both felt like they've had really good workouts, they both feel good," Wright said. "Certain teams say they like them, but they haven't guaranteed they're going to take them."

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