Sixers looking at new GM targets, but may keep interim structure

ByAdrian Wojnarowski ESPN logo
Monday, August 27, 2018

Philadelphia 76ers managing partner Josh Harris told ESPN that the franchise's general manager search is identifying new targets to meet and interview, but he didn't rule out leaving the interim structure in place for the coming season.

"It does leave open that possibility," Harris told ESPN on Monday. "We prefer to find an elite talent who can lead us, but we aren't going to compromise."

Since the dismissal of Bryan Colangelo in June, coach Brett Brown has served as the franchise's interim GM surrounded with front-office executives Ned Cohen, Marc Eversley and Elton Brand. The Sixers are promoting those three executives on Monday into expanded roles and new titles, league sources said.

Cohen (assistant general manager) and Eversley (senior VP of player personnel) are the primary day-to-day operators of the front office -- with Brand (VP of basketball operations) working in the Sixers' front office and running the G League affiliate in Delaware.

Philadelphia will also promote Alex Rucker (senior VP of analytics and strategy) and move assistant coach Kevin Young onto the front of the bench to replace Jim O'Brien, who will now serve as a senior advisor to Brown.

"We have a skilled and stable staff who share the same vision under Brett," Harris told ESPN. "We prefer to find someone, but we don't want to feel forced into compromising."

The 76ers inquired about several top front-office executives, but rival owners seldom have interest in allowing those kinds of individuals permission to exit contracts -- even if that GM had interest in exploring the Sixers' opening. Philadelphia has been gathering information on several assistant GM candidates and non-top executives in recent weeks, league sources said. The next pool of candidates would have a far easier ability to accept a job with the Sixers.

"There are a very small number of elite sitting GMs, and they're generally under contract with teams for a long time," Harris told ESPN. "Those situations tend not to change much. For us, we need someone to add real value, which includes looking at young up-and-coming basketball executives and non-traditional candidates.

"We're going to have a pretty selective list. This is not going to be huge tournament. We're going to talk to some people who aren't sitting GMs who could add value to our situation.

"What I've learned is that GM job has got many facets, and that it's a learned skill. It's certainly got a public-facing nature to it, but management and very strong relationships are important -- and very few people who are not sitting GMs have all of those components. We have strengths in all those areas around our front office right now."

The Sixers continue to exclude the possibility of Brown holding onto the interim GM role for the long-term, even if he carries that title through the 2018-19 season. Brown signed a three-year contract extension through the 2021-22 season this spring.

"Through and through, Brett loves being a basketball coach -- and he's really good at it," Harris told ESPN. "In-season, it's an 80- to 100-hour-a-week job, and I think he's reflective on just how much harder it would be to try and do both jobs. He's done it on a temporary basis because it's the right thing for the organization. His goal is to coach the Sixers to an NBA championship, and in order to put us in that position, to have a maximum chance of doing that, Brett realizes that a strengthened front office would be a good thing."

The attractiveness of the Sixers' opening is unquestioned around the NBA: Two young stars, Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, the 2017 No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz, a solid core of role players and a maximum salary cap slot for 2019 free agency -- never mind the setting of a rabid, traditional big NBA market. The Sixers executed one of the best regular season turnarounds in years, going 52-30 and advancing to the Eastern Conference semifinals.

"I think we have one of the best, if not the best, situation in the NBA -- particularly for the leader of a front office," Harris told ESPN. "We have great young players, lots of cap space and stable ownership willing to invest and spend in the team. We're going to be patient and try to find the right person. The next year is going to be incredibly important for us, and we have a real desire to find the right person now -- but if not, we are incredibly comfortable with the existing staff and we'll move forward from there."

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