A group led by Joshua Harris, a graduate from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, who has watched the Sixers play for a long time, officially purchased the Philadelphia 76ers from Comcast-Spectator this week. Actually, Harris, 46, became a fan of the team during the 1982–83 season.
That was a big year for professional basketball in this town. The Sixers, led by Julius Erving, Moses Malone, Maurice Cheeks, Andrew Toney and Bobby Jones, won an NBA championship.
Adam Aron, an Abington High graduate, is the Sixers’ new chief executive officer. Aron has watched the Sixers play even longer than Harris. He remembers the 1983 championship team, but also the 1966–67 team, which featured basketball legend Wilt Chamberlain, Hal Greer, Billy Cunningham, Chet Walker, Wali Jones and Luke Jackson.
Harris and Aron are joined by investor David Blitzer, who will serve as co-managing owner and an alternate governor of the NBA.
Other investors include Martin Geller, David Heller, Travis Hennings, James Lassiter, Marc Leder, Jason Levien, Michael Rubin, Philadelphia’s own actor Will Smith, and his wife and actress Jada Pinkett Smith, Handy Soetedjo, Erick Thohir and Art Wrubel.
All of the aforementioned have made personal investments in the team and would like to give pro basketball a boost in this town. Harris bought the Sixers for a reported $280 million.
The announcement was made on Tuesday at the Palestra, the city’s legendary basketball arena, which has provided basketball fans with some of the most exciting games this town has ever seen. Harris and Aron talked about slashing ticket prices in addition to receiving input from fans on basketball and other marketing efforts.
The two things Harris and Aron seem to bring to the Sixers is a sense history and genuine interest in the organization beyond money. They’re both successful businessmen. Harris is a managing partner of Apollo Management, L.P., which he co-founded in 1990. According to Forbes, Harris is worth $1.45 billion. Aron was the former chairman and CEO of Vail Resorts, the world’s second largest ski resort operator, which under his direction became one of the nation’s premiere ski destinations.
When Harris was a student at Penn, the Quakers’ big stars were Karl Racine and Perry Bromwell. They won a lot of games for Penn along with a couple Ivy League championships. So, The Palestra was a good backdrop for him. He has a good flavor for basketball in this city and what he would like to accomplish with the Sixers.
“I’m going to be a great fan,” Harris said. “I’m going to be excited. I’m going to be upset when we lose and excited when we win. Having said that, we are going to try to be rational when it comes to making decisions about how we run the team and I think it’s pretty simple. We want to be world class and cutting-edge up and down. Everything we do with this team we want to reflect well on us and to be positive to the community. That’s on the court, that’s off the court and it starts with how we all conduct ourselves.”
Harris and Aron will have a lot of help with running the organization. Rod Thorn, Sixers president, will have a bigger role with the departure of Ed Stefanski, who was the team’s general manager.
As followers of the team, Harris and Aron are aware of what Doug Collins, Sixers head coach, was able to do with this team. Collins led the Sixers to a playoff appearance with a 41-41 record after a 3-13 start. Philly lost to the Miami Heat in the first round of the playoffs. The Heat went to the NBA Finals before losing to the Dallas Mavericks. The Sixers key players were Elton Brand, Andre Iguodala, Jrue Holiday, Lou Williams, Jodie Meeks, Evan Turner and Thaddeus Young.
“Well, I’ll have to be careful with what I say, because I lived in Miami last year,” Aron said. “I watched every game of the Heat-Sixers series, and I can sure tell you, as Josh said, our allegiances are Philadelphia 76ers all the way. Not just to basketball, but maybe to all professional sports. We’re going to be watching a lot of Sixers basketball.”
They’ll be very busy.
Philadelphia 76ers CEO and co-owner Adam Aron recently announced that the team has reached an agreement with Julius Erving under which Dr. J will for the next several years formally associate himself in a part-time capacity with his former team as a strategic adviser.
In his new role, which runs at least through 2015, Erving will offer advice and counsel to Aron and Sixers managing owner Joshua Harris, will be available to the 76ers front office and coaches as they may wish from time to time and in numerous ways as his primary focus will interact with Sixers fans and sponsors as a goodwill ambassador for the team.
Looking forward, the 76ers will also explore other ways which will evolve and become over time in which the 76ers can be cooperative with Erving in his professional activities through his holding companies, “Dr. J Enterprises” and “The Erving Group.”
Erving’s outstanding basketball career saw him become the third leading scorer of all time in professional basketball, scoring more than 30,000 points in the ABA and NBA. Most of those took place in his 11 seasons with the Sixers, including the 1982-83 NBA championship season. Erving was repeatedly named an all-star and a Most Valuable Player. In 1993, he was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. In 1996, Erving was named one of the 50 greatest players in NBA history.
Andrew Bynum had an adoring public in front of him and beaming management on stage to his right.
The Philadelphia 76ers had thrown open the doors of a press conference to the public and hundreds of fans, longing for a reason to get excited again, came to chant the name of their new superstar. Eager to win over his new supporters, Bynum worked the faithful into a frenzy. Without playing a game for the Sixers, he said he wanted to make Philadelphia his home — and the team was ready to commit.
"Where do I sign?" owner Joshua Harris said. "Show me the contract."
Harris should be glad now he didn't sign any deals in early August.
Those cheers for Bynum were the only ones the 7-foot center has heard 38 games into a season that has the Sixers spiraling from hopeful Atlantic Division contenders toward the NBA draft lottery. With Bynum, the Sixers expected to make a deep run in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Without him, the Sixers are lagging at 16-22 and entered Monday four games behind Boston for the final spot in the East.
The Sixers can't blame all their woes on missing Bynum.
But he sure would help.
"It's hard to say how it's affected us because we haven't played with him," forward Thaddeus Young said.
Bynum has sat out the season because of bone bruises on both his knees. Bynum, an All-Star last year with the Lakers, in on a six-step rehabilitation process that he hopes will get him back into lineup around the Feb. 15 All-Star break. He's worked weights into his rehab and started running on Monday.
He proclaimed his knees pain free.
"They're the best I've had in a long time, so they look really, really good to me," Bynum told reporters Monday after practice.
Again, Bynum had no true timetable for his return, though "around the All-Star break" was the first new range he suggested in weeks. Bynum's potential return date has been in flux since training camp. One day before practice was set to open, the Sixers announced Bynum would be shut down for three weeks as a precaution after he received knee treatment in Germany. Three weeks has turned into three months. He even injured his left knee while bowling.
He participated in shooting drills with assistant coaches Michael Curry and Brian James, as well as head athletic trainer Kevin Johnson on Monday. Bynum cautioned, though, that he still had plenty of rehabilitation left to complete.
"I'm not back. But I'm headed in that direction," he said. "It's all positive."
The 76ers good use a dose of good news. Their 10-6 start has twisted into a 6-16 stretch entering Tuesday's game against New Orleans. The Sixers hope Saturday's win over Houston to open a stretch of 12 home games in the next 13 can be the calming factor that stabilizes their season. Throw in Bynum's return, and the Sixers just might be able to still make a dent in the postseason.
Team president Rod Thorn and general manager Tony DiLeo would love to know Bynum's availability before the Feb. 21 trade deadline. If Bynum hasn't returned, or the Sixers are still scuffling, the front office could look to make more big trades to win down the road.
Bynum, who averaged 18.7 points and 11.8 rebounds last season, would be worth the wait if he matched those numbers.
"We've got Andrew Bynum, All-Star," Young said. "He's a great player and we're willing to wait on him each and every day. He's definitely a focal point of what we're trying to do. He's definitely, 'The guy.' I wouldn't rather have anybody else."
Lavoy Allen and Kwame Brown haven't come close to filling Bynum's numbers at center. Allen has taken a big step back from his rookie season and is averaging only 6.4 points and 5.3 rebounds. Before their 107-100 win over Houston on Saturday, the Sixers ranked 27th in the NBA in scoring (92.2 points) and have regularly failed to even reach 90 points over the last six weeks. They scored more than 89 points for the first time in six games against the Rockets.
Not exactly what CEO Adam Aron expected when he touted at Bynum's arrival, "The Sixers are once again the talk of the town."
The Sixers have lost 13 of their last 17 games but a soft slate of games this week against New Orleans and Toronto could help turn that around.
The struggles haven't fractured the locker room under coach Doug Collins, and the tight unit has bounced back from swoons before.
"We're not going to splinter," Collins said, "not as long as I'm the coach."
DiLeo has repeatedly said he would make the Bynum trade again. What else would he say? Bynum is in the final year of his contract and would love nothing more to return to help the Sixers win and prove he's healthy enough to merit a $100-plus million deal in the summer.
Lost in the shuffle of the Sixers dumping Elton Brand, Lou Williams and Andre Iguodala was their decision to send Nikola Vucevic to Orlando as part of the four-team Bynum trade. Vucevic fell out of Collins' rotation at the end of last season and played in only one of their 13 playoff games. The 7-footer is sixth in the NBA in rebounds (11.0) and is making only $1.76 million — scraps compared to the $16.75 million Bynum will earn this season.
Bynum is eligible for a five-year contract after July 1, once he becomes an unrestricted free agent. The Sixers can offer Bynum more years and money than any other team. With good reason, they want to know what kind of Bynum is on the market: The L.A. All-Star or the Sixers' Sidelined Center. -- (AP)
When Philadelphia 76ers managing owner Josh Harris introduced Sam Hinkie as the Sixers new general manager and president of basketaball operations at the team’s press conference a few days ago, it became evident that Hinkie has a lot of work to do this offseason. Moreover, he has a lot of work to do in a short period of time.
“I think the first 100 days will be a real whirlwind here,” Hinkie said. “I welcome that. It’s a whirlwind for every team every year if you’re doing your job the way I like to do it.”
Hinkie has a whirlwind of decisions to make in the coming weeks. He has to hire a head coach. He has to get ready for the NBA draft lottery on May 21. After that, the Sixers will know where they’re picking in the first round of the draft. They will have to evaluate some of the top prospects. Then, of course, they will participate in the draft on June 27. After that, NBA free agency begins on July 1. That’s a lot of work.
Hinkie comes to Philly with plenty of experience. He spent eight years with the Houston Rockets, most recently as executive vice president of basketball operations since 2010 where he was respsonsible for the Rockets’ considerable and ground-breaking analytic efforts, which included utilizing data to improve decision making in the draft, via free agency and trades, and in-game strategy. He also provided day-to-day management of basketball operations, managed the salary cap and did some scouting among the college and professional ranks.
If he can help the Sixers turn the corner and have the kind of year the Rockets had this season, that would be a vast improvement. Houston finished the regular with a 45-37 record. They were eliminated from the first round of the NBA playoffs by the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Rockets were able to make the playoffs largely because of James Harden, who previously played for the Thunder. In fact, he was a key member of Oklahoma City with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Harden was named Sixth Man of the Year last season. Hinkie was able to swing a trade for Harden who made the all-star team.
He’s going to need to make some moves over the summer. His biggest decision will be Andrew Bynum who will become an unrestricted free agent. Bynum’s situation has to be addressed as soon as free agency begins. That will dictate how everything else will fall into place.
Hinkie will need to somehow pull off some kind of significant trade to make this team better. He has three returning players in Jrue Holiday, Thaddeus Young and Evan Turner who have been here and played on the Sixers last two playoff teams.
It’s going to be interesting to see how he puts everything together. The first 100 days appear to be busy ones. He has a lot of decisions to make. And they have to be good ones to move this franchise forward.
Doug Collins has resigned after three seasons as coach of the Philadelphia 76ers and will remain with the franchise as an adviser.
Collins has one year left on his original four-year deal worth $4.5 million. He steps down after a season so full of promise unraveled starting with the knee injury to center Andrew Bynum. The Sixers went 34-48 and missed the playoffs for the first time in his three seasons.
The decision was announced by owner Josh Harris Thursday.
"This is his decision," Harris said. "He is not being pushed out."
Collins was on hand at the team's end-of-season press conference, and told reporters he made this decision in December, citing family reasons.
"There are a lot of things I want to enjoy," he said.
That, and Collins wanted no part of what is expected to be a long rebuilding process from the bench. He will instead add his input from the front office.
The Sixers picked up the option on Collins' contract for the 2013-14 season in training camp and he said then he wanted to remain with the organization in some capacity when his coaching career is over. It's over earlier than expected.
Collins, a four-time All-Star with the Sixers, returned to the franchise in 2010 and led them to the playoffs in each of his first two seasons. A year ago, the Sixers eliminated the top-seeded Chicago Bulls in the first round and fell a win shy of reaching the Eastern Conference finals.
Collins guided a young Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls from 1986-89, and the Detroit Pistons from 1995-98. He coached Jordan again with the Washington Wizards from 2001-03.
His two seasons with the Wizards had been his only two full seasons in which he did not lead his team to the playoffs. He was fired shortly after Jordan was denied a return to the front office.
Collins worked for TNT after leaving the Wizards and received the Curt Gowdy Media Award at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame for his work as a broadcaster.
He averaged 17.9 points in a career marred by injuries. A knee injury forced him to retire in 1981, two years before the 76ers beat the Lakers for the 1983 NBA title.
His son, Chris Collins, was hired as coach at Northwestern earlier this month, after a stint as an assistant with Duke.
After losing Game 7 to Boston last year in the Eastern Conference semifinals, Philadelphia shook up the roster and made the bold move to acquire Bynum.
Bynum never played for the Sixers because of bone bruises in both knees. He insisted from training camp he would play this season, only to shut it down for good on March 18 and undergo season-ending arthroscopic surgery on both knees. Bynum earned $16.5 million this season and is set to become an unrestricted free agent.
Bynum is one of six free agents for the Sixers, who are devoid of any real assets. Jrue Holiday was an All-Star in his third full season and joined Wilt Chamberlain as the two players in the franchise's 50-year history to average more than 17 points and eight assists for an entire season.
Thaddeus Young and Evan Turner are solid assets. But those two standouts — along with Holiday — weren't enough to help lead the Sixers back to the postseason.
In what ended up being Collins' last game, Philadelphia gave the coach an impressive win. Dorell Wright scored 23 points and Turner added 16 as the 76ers posted a 105-95 victory over Indiana.
"Whatever he wants to do, whatever makes him feel happy, you know what I'm saying," Turner said when asked if he wanted Collins back late Wednesday night. "You go through that type of year, go through that type of situation, strenuous and all of that. It's all about what he decides to do. He has a lot of options and whatever's the best decision for him.
"He could always go back to commentating. Whatever he wants to do that makes him happy." -- (AP)