LAS VEGAS – The 76ers’ search for a president of basketball operations/general manager could drag on.
“I think it’s going to take a while to find the right person,” Sixers co-managing partner Josh Harris said Monday at the NBA Summer League. “I hate to keep talking about it, but we really need to find the right person who can develop the special culture. It’s very consensus-oriented.”
The Sixers have been without a full-time president of basketball operations/general manager since Bryan Colangelo resigned on June 7. His resignation ended a stunning nine-day saga that began when a report from The Ringer tied him to damaging and anonymous Twitter accounts. Sixers coach Brett Brown has been serving as the interim general manager.
The holdup in filling his job could be finding someone willing to give up total power in making decisions. The Sixers prefer someone with GM experience. And they would like to keep the front-office personnel intact.
Multiple sources have said that Kiki VanDeWeghe has expressed interest in the job. VanDeWeghe is the NBA’s executive vice president for basketball operations. He has had GM stints with the Nets and the Nuggets.
Former Cavaliers general manager David Griffin was once mentioned as the leading candidate for the job. Spurs general manager R.C. Buford has been mentioned as a possible target, according to sources. However, the Sixers would have a tough time prying him away from San Antonio.
Of the Sixers’ current front-office executives, Ned Cohen, the vice president of basketball operations, could be the best candidate for the job. Cohen has a lot of relationships around the league from his time working in the NBA office. He’s also been the one communicating with other teams and agents. Co-owner David B. Heller could continue to have a huge say regardless of who the Sixers hire.
“I think general-manager experience and a track record is a plus,” Harris said. “Obviously, we lived through a science project [by hiring Sam Hinkie, who had no GM experience]. It had its benefits, but we may not be able to get that [a former general manager].”
But finding someone willing to work in the team’s collaborative decision-making structure is a priority.
“Certainly there are other ways to do it, where there’s a big, strong leader,” Harris said. “He or she makes every decision, and there’s many roads to run. That’s just not the road we are going to take.
“I think the people that are the best take the existing people that they know and can objectively look at the people that they are joining and can try to create the best team. I would love that approach. I think I’m leaving the answer key out here.”
But the Sixers realize it will take a “quite unique” person to fit into their infrastructure.
The Sixers’ collaboration involves, at times, having four, five, six people on the phone giving their input. Brown said it’s difficult to make a mistake based on the layers needed to get through before a decision is made.
So the goal is to find a general manager who will come into the front office and mesh with Cohen, vice president of analytics and strategy Alex Rucker and director of analytics and strategy Sergi Oliva. Brown said they have firepower and are “really competent good people.”
He added that what the team has isn’t broken. It has a culture that’s almost plug-and-play, he said.
“So who’s going to be the GM that’s going to allow that, egoless?” Brown said. “Doesn’t need to take credit? Allows people to continue to do their job?”
One would assume that the Sixers would have a tough time finding an established candidate willing to give up full power. General managers like to hire their own front-office staff and have final say on every decision.
“This is – if not the most – one of the most attractive jobs in the NBA,” Harris said. “So I feel like we will have a line outside the door of people that want to do it. It’s a question of finding the right person.”
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