daryl morey

Sixers pursued 'high-level, accomplished' executives before hiring Elton Brand as general manager

Sixers pursued 'high-level, accomplished' executives before hiring Elton Brand as general manager

In the wake of the absurd scandal involving Bryan Colangelo and burner Twitter accounts, the Sixers searched for their next general manager and handed Brett Brown the job on an interim basis. Eventually, they promoted Elton Brand.

He was certainly not their first choice, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

“When they opened that job up, when Colangelo was gone and before they promoted Elton Brand, they went after any number of high-level, accomplished executives around the league,” Wojnarowski said on The Woj Pod. “They were willing to offer Daryl Morey, Bob Meyers, Dennis Lindsey, Sam Presti. There may have been more.”

Brand’s only previous executive experience was as the GM of the Sixers’ G-League affiliate, the Delaware Blue Coats (formerly the 87ers). It makes sense that the Sixers would have preferred more established candidates.

The Sixers were “rebuffed” in their efforts to hire Morey, The New York Times’ Marc Stein reported in July of 2018. A mentor to former Sixers GM Sam Hinkie, Morey won the NBA’s Executive of the Year Award in 2018 and is still GM of the Rockets. 

Stein also reported the Sixers “commissioned a clandestine run at prying Myers away from the Warriors that was likewise rebuffed.” Myers has served as the Warriors’ general manger since 2012 and won three championships with the team.

Lindsey is the executive vice president of basketball operations for the Jazz, while Presti has been GM of the Thunder franchise since 2007. 

The Sixers had an interview with former Cavs and current Pelicans executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin but, according to The Inquirer’s Keith Pompey, “felt he wasn’t a good fit for their front-office structure” and wanted to “make collaborative decisions instead of a GM who will have the final say.”

In July of 2018, Sixers managing partner Josh Harris told NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Amy Fadool, “It’s very consensus-oriented, there’s a lot of people in the dialogue, and we want to make sure we find the right fit for that.”

Wojnarowski noted on the podcast that Harris and the Sixers’ leadership above Brand remain influential.

“Ownership’s got a lot of say in Philly," he said. “You’ve got a group of owners that are involved, that are there. How many team have multiple owners courtside each corner of the arena, each night?

Brand has made several major moves since assuming the GM job in September of 2018, including trading for Jimmy Butler, shipping Markelle Fultz to Orlando, trading for Tobias Harris and then signing him to a five-year, $180 million deal this summer, and giving Al Horford a four-year contract with $97 million guaranteed. At 37-23 this season and 9-21 on the road, Brand’s roster has not performed the way he envisioned. 

Wojnarowski and Max Kellerman also talk about expectations for the rest of the Sixers' season, the history of Sam Hinkie’s Process and more on the podcast, which you can listen to here

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Sixers react to Rockets GM Daryl Morey's comments about situation in Hong Kong

Sixers react to Rockets GM Daryl Morey's comments about situation in Hong Kong

The Sixers on Tuesday will take on the Guangzhou Loong-Lions of the Chinese Basketball Association in their first game of the preseason.

Normally this wouldn’t be of much note outside of looking for Ben Simmons to take a jumper or Joel Embiid’s health. 

But with the recent tweet of Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey and the reaction since, it takes on a slightly different feel.

Morey on Friday tweeted out "Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong." Hong Kong has seen protests that have become violent in nature in opposition to a proposed extradition law. Morey subsequently deleted his tweet and he offered an explanation for his actions.

The Sixers didn’t offer up much on the subject Monday other than to acknowledge that they enjoyed their trip to China last season for a pair of preseason games and that they’re still looking forward to their game against the Loong-Lions Tuesday.

“The game will go on as planned,” Sixers senior VP of communications Dave Sholler said after practice. “First and foremost, we played in China last year and it was an incredible experience for our team and organization. We felt that support all of last year into this year. We love our fans there, the passion, the intensity they have for our sport. And I think most importantly, the game of basketball possesses an incredible power to bring people together. And as we play the Lions tomorrow, that’s what it’s about — it’s about that incredible platform basketball has provided to bring people together.”

Head coach Brett Brown gave a similar response when asked about the current situation with playing a team from China.

The team didn’t offer any comment specifically on Morey’s tweet or the subsequent reaction by the league, but Brown did offer something.

“[The league's response] did surprise me a little bit, but it's really all I feel personally I want to say about the matter,” Brown said. “I understand what's gone on since the comments. And I will just repeat, it's an easy few sentences, we had a great time in China and they just love basketball. … And that's my stance on it, and tomorrow night. And I hear your social question, but it's not my place to comment on that right now.”

When pressed about how he would approach a player that wanted to express themselves politically or socially in general, Brown didn’t elaborate much.

“I'm gonna let you down because I don't really have anything more to say,” Brown said. “I think people can do what they choose to do. You know, they're big boys, they can handle it however they choose to and I genuinely mean that, and that's how I would handle it.”

Ben Simmons, Josh Richardson and Kyle O'Quinn all spoke after Brown. None of them took a stance on the issue, saying they didn't feel informed enough on the matter to do so.

The NBA has become a league where players and executives have felt comfortable expressing themselves regarding social and political issues. That’s why some thought the league’s stance was a bit peculiar in that they seemed to be apologizing on behalf of Morey and put their economic relationship with China ahead of allowing a GM to speak their mind.

Commissioner Adam Silver clarified that he supported Morey even if he didn’t agree with his point of view.

"I think as a values-based organization that I want to make it clear ... that Daryl Morey is supported in terms of his ability to exercise his freedom of expression,” Silver said to Kyodo News in Tokyo.

This doesn’t seem like a situation that will be cleared up or swept under the rug any time soon.

And the Sixers are likely not done answering questions about it as they gear up for their first preseason game.

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Sixers operating business as usual amid ongoing front-office search

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Sixers operating business as usual amid ongoing front-office search

The Sixers recorded one of their busiest portions of the offseason last week.

There was the broken contract agreement with Nemanja Bjelica, the three-team trade that sent Justin Anderson and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot out of town and brought back big man Mike Muscala, the deal to move Richaun Holmes and the decision to sign Jonah Bolden. Oh yeah, there were also the reported trade discussions for veteran sharpshooter Kyle Korver.

That’s a busy week for any team, especially one without a full-time general manager or president of basketball operations.

The Sixers remain one of just two NBA teams currently without a full-time person in at least one of those roles (the Detroit Pistons are the other).

There has been little information made public about the Sixers’ front-office search other than a report that they tried unsuccessfully to lure Houston’s Daryl Morey to Philadelphia. 

The slow pace was to be expected when searching for such a critical cog of the organization, as managing partner Josh Harris said earlier this month.

“My guess is it’s going to take awhile,” Harris told NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Amy Fadool on July 11. “And we’re obviously focused on doing it as quickly as possible, but at the same time I don’t want to set unrealistic expectations — it could take a little while. So we’re just starting that.”

The fact that the Sixers waited until after the draft and the major dominoes to fall in free agency before seriously going after a top front-office executive speaks to the confidence the franchise has in the men already in the fold.

“I think one of the tremendous legacies that Bryan (Colangelo) should be recognized for is he really, and I mean really, did a great job of putting key people in key positions,” head coach and interim general manager, Brett Brown, said on June 7 when Colangelo’s resignation was announced. “When I look at our front office the firepower that we really have with (vice president of analytics and strategy) Alex Rucker and (vice president of basketball operations and chief of staff) Ned Cohen and (vice president of athlete care Dr.) Danny Medina leading our medical department and (vice president of player personnel) Marc Eversley and (Delaware Blue Coats general manager) Elton Brand and it’s like you can go on. We have the firepower that we need to move this thing forward and not miss a beat.”

That’s all well and good and Brown, along with the help he named, have done an admirable job this summer in the midst of the Colangelo scandal. 

However, Harris, who is now in the process of making his seventh decision-making front-office designation in nearly seven years as owner (Rod Thorn, Tony DiLeo, Sam Hinkie, Jerry Colangelo, Bryan Colangelo, Brown), wants to finally nail a hire to solidify the Sixers’ executive ranks.

“We’ve been through a lot as an organization,” Harris said last month. “Sometimes things happen with people. … The way we approach this is we think longevity is a worthwhile goal. We think people working together and developing partnerships is a goal. 

“So far there’s been a little bit of turnover at that position. We’re looking for Mr. and Mrs. Right where we can build over the long run. We haven’t been able to hit on that person yet.”

And as each day goes by, targeting that perfect person is only going to get more difficult.

“The reality is, listen, we’re going to have very high expectations. This is going to be hard,” Harris said. “We look at this as a club that a lot of people are going to want to join and we have a unique culture here and a unique team. It’s not going to be easy to find that 100 percent right person, but we’re sure going to try.”

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