Despite having one of the most successful off-seasons in franchise history, the Sixers still don't have a General Manager. Apparently a bunch of people have been collaborating on the decisions – which would probably happen, regardless – but it does seem a little bizarre that the Sixers have, more of less, re-defined the state of their franchise, without hiring a General Manager.
Unfortunately, there's really nothing to complain about yet – the results speak for themselves – but that doesn't mean the Sixers should take the GM search lightly. I'm not exactly sure what the hold-up is, and this once-predictable franchise has become unbelievably unpredictable in a matter of weeks, so my guess is as good as yours. But I do have a guess, and if I'm right, it could spell trouble for the franchise, if handled incorrectly.
As you may remember, at the end of May, reports surfaced that Sixers President and General Manager, Rod Thorn, was "considering retirement". A few weeks later, however; reports came out that it was Doug Collins – who wants "all of the power" – forcing Thorn out of Philadelphia. Collins was also advocating Danny Ferry's candidacy to replace Thorn.
In July, multiple sources were reporting that Tom Penn to the Sixers was a done deal. But, earlier this week, we found out the Sixers lust for Penn has cooled a bit, and now they're seriously considering Jeff Bower for the job – previously thought to be a long-shot – as well as a completely new face, Mike Zarren from the Boston Celtics.
The GM search is three months in, and the Sixers have already given two guys the wink and the gun, only to see one of the parties lose interest. They're interviewing Bower for a second time and Zarren for the first. I'm on record as being a Tom Penn supporter, and recently jumped on the Zarren bandwagon. But I don't want Bower anywhere near the Sixers.
The reason I think it's taking the Sixers so long to hire a General Manager is the three-way power struggle between ownership, Doug Collins and each of the candidates. Doug Collins still wants all the power, and a "yes man" as the General Manager. The candidates aren't thrilled about the idea of being Collins' bitch. And ownership is torn between the two, because they know hiring a "yes man" is a bad decision, but they don't to wake up chained to a chair with Doug Collins asking them over a loud speaker, "Do you want to play a game?"
This is pure speculation, so I hope I'm wrong, and ownership ultimately makes the right decision. Doug Collins seems like he'd be a nice guy to go fishing with, and I want him announcing my rec league basketball games, but I still want him as far away from Sixers personnel decisions as possible. I'm sure he was 100 percent on board with Bynum, but the building of this eventual (hopefully) championship contender is far from done. There are still necessary moves to morph this team from "a cool young team with championship building blocks" to a legitimate contender. And the Sixers need the right GM to get them there – not a Doug Collins "yes man".
More speculation, but it seems like Jeff Bower would fit the mold of "yes man", which is why I'm completely against his candidacy. Penn and Zarren don't seem like Collins guys, and they're part of the new wave of smart, analytical, NBA front offices.
I know Joshua Harris – a stats guy, himself – knows all this. Until the Bynum trade, I had no confidence in him as an owner. Now that he pulled that off, I have some confidence he makes the correct decision here. Because, hiring a Collins "yes man" would be a huge step back, following the big Bynum swoop.
A wise man once said, "no one man should have all that power", and then he said, "Jeff Bower is a good candidate, but Tom Penn and Mike Zarren are the best candidates of ALL TIME." Something tells me that guy knew what he was talking about.