NBA AM: 76ers Set To Replace Thorn In Front Office
Rod Thorn Assisting 76ers In Finding His Successor? According to a report by the Philadelphia Daily News’ Bob Cooney, the Philadelphia 76ers are actively interviewing replacements for president of basketball operations Rod Thorn.
Thorn, who has served in the role with the team since August 2010, is entering the last year of a three-year deal. The contract reportedly has a clause which would allow the 71 year old Thorn to become a part time team consultant with the organization for the next five years.
According to the report, the potential candidates to replace Thorn include Oklahoma City assistant general manager Troy Weaver, San Antonio Spurs VP of operations Danny Ferry, former New Orleans Hornets general manager Jeff Bower, Spurs assistant general manager Dennis Lindsey, Atlanta Hawks EVP and general manager Rick Sund and Milwaukee general manager John Hammond.
The team’s interview panel currently consists of team owner Josh Harris, chief executive officer Adam Aron and Thorn. A team source stated that the candidate selection process could take up to a year or more, but confirmed the process didn’t begin until after the club’s recent season ended.
Thorn’s notable moves with the 76ers include selecting promising big men Nikola Vucevic (No. 16) and LaVoy Allen (No. 50) in the 2011 draft. The Sixers currently have $56 million in salary commitments for the 2013 campaign, but face a pivotal offseason which will likely determine if the team gets over the proverbial hump or are stuck in the middle of the pack after reaching the second round of the playoffs in 2012.
Unrestricted free agent to be center Spencer Hawes is expected to generate strong interest this summer around the league, while the team’s leading scorer this past season Lou Williams is expected to exercise his early termination option and also test the free agent waters.
The team must also make a decision on veteran forward Elton Brand. The former All-Star is owed $18.1 million next season and has been rumored to be a candidate for the team’s amnesty clause. The franchise is also rumored to be taking calls and testing the market value of All-Star forward Andre Iguodala around the league.
Until a replacement is found Thorn is expected to lead the operations as normal.
The Sixers finished the season 35-31 and reached the playoffs for the second consecutive year.
Hawks’ Pachulia Finally Pain Free: The 2011-12 campaign for the Atlanta Hawks can best be described as a season of what ifs. In the lockout shortened season the team had limited time to incorporate seven new players into their lineup and had to overcome a plethora of injuries to key members of the rotation throughout the year.
Even though the team managed to notch its fifth consecutive trip to the playoffs, which ended in a disappointing first round elimination at the hands of the Boston Celtics, it could be argued the team was never at full strength with only Josh Smith and Jeff Teague playing the entire season.
One of the most notable injuries endured by the Hawks this season was the torn pectoral muscle suffered by two-time All-Star center Al Horford which limited him to just eleven regular season contests.
Horford’s replacement in the starting lineup, Zaza Pachulia, filled in admirably at center and averaged 7.8 points and 7.9 rebounds on 50 percent shooting from the floor, finishing second on the team in rebounding and third in field goal percentage. But Pachulia also became a victim to the injury bug late in the campaign after suffering a bone chip in his foot which forced him to miss the team’s entire playoff run.
Well, the good news for Hawks fans is that the injury team owner Michael Gearon Jr. once quipped kept Pachulia from even being able to stand during the postseason is now relatively pain free.
“I feel better,” Pachulia told HOOPSWORLD via e-mail. “I don’t feel any pain. Because it’s the offseason I’m consulting with doctors and we are not rushing to start putting pressure on [the foot]. Right now I’m doing yoga and lifting weights and cardio on the bike. Hopefully next month I’ll start doing drills on the court.”
The Hawks recently announced head coach Larry Drew’s option would be picked up for the 2013 season which leads most to believe the team’s core group will be back to make another run as a unit. The team has $61 million in salary commitments already on the books for the upcoming season owed to six players.
Pachulia will be an unrestricted free agent next summer along with forward Josh Smith.
Cleveland Cavaliers Targeted Top Pick From Hornets, Quickly Rejected: The New Orleans Hornets are seriously open to trading a first round pick in this month’s draft, but unfortunately for the Cleveland Cavaliers it doesn’t involve the No. 1 overall pick.
The Hornets are reportedly open to dealing the tenth overall pick if the team can remove long term salaries from the books (i.e. Emeka Okafor or Trevor Ariza) or if the team can return additional draft picks for the future.
According to ESPN’s Chad Ford, the Cavaliers’ bid for the Hornets’ top draft pick was flatly rejected by the Hornets. Cleveland reportedly offered New Orleans their No. 4 and No. 22 picks in the first round to go along with the No. 33 and No. 34 picks in the second round.
The Hornets are widely expected to draft former University of Kentucky standout Anthony Davis with the top overall pick on June 28.
New York Knicks To Pursue Derek Fisher? One of the main areas the New York Knicks will focus this offseason is at the point guard position, specifically addressing the leadership needed from the role.
In a perfect world, the Knicks would be able to re-sign the emerging Jeremy Lin and surround him with a cagey veteran who would serve in a mentoring role. However, Lin’s status of returning to the team is in jeopardy if the club doesn’t win its arbitration hearing on June 13 to restore his Bird Rights.
If the Knicks lose the hearing, currently sitting over the cap with $63 million in salary commitments for 2013, they would only have their $2 million lower cap exception to offer.
If all goes well, one player the Knicks are reportedly interested in pursuing is veteran point guard and free agent to be Derek Fisher who is getting ready to play in the NBA Finals as a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
When asked about the possibility of joining the Knicks this summer, Fisher was non-committal but also fully reiterated his desire to continue his playing career beyond this season.
“I’ve always tried my best as I approach free agent summers to not really think a lot about it until I’m there, especially at this point when so much is at stake,’’ Fisher told Marc Berman of the New York Post. “I can’t accurately answer that question. I don’t know where I’ll be emotionally after this series is over. But my plan is for sure to play after this season. I’m not going to retire after this year. I feel great physically and definitely looking forward to playing after these two weeks.’’
Fisher was traded by the Los Angeles Lakers to Houston at the trade deadline, before parting ways with the Rockets via a buyout and ultimately landing with Oklahoma City.
Nuggets’ Karl Says Team Cannot Afford To Rest On Success: The Denver Nuggets continue to thrive in the post Carmelo Anthony era and nearly advanced to the second round of this year’s playoffs pushing the third seeded Los Angeles Lakers to seven games before bowing out.
Nuggets coach George Karl deemed the campaign a success but also sent out a warning about the potential of becoming complacent because of the good fortunes.
“There’s very few seasons that end as well as I think our season ended,” Karl told Chris Dempsey of the Denver Post. “But in the same sense, I think we’ve got to be a little cautious of being too optimistic. But the summer is fun for us. We’ve always loved the summer. … And hey, we’ve got good young players. In the end we might have too many good young players, but that’s going to be Masai (Ujiri, Nuggets executive VP of basketball operations) and his (team president Josh Kroenke’s) problem. My problem is to make them as confident and ready to go next year.”
Karl, who has amassed a 366-232 record with the Nuggets and hasn’t missed the playoffs since arriving in 2005, hinted to knowing his time on the team’s bench may be limited with a fan base looking for deeper postseason runs.
“I know there are a lot of people out there getting tired of me, but, you know, that’s part of being in a city for eight years,” Karl said. “I’ve lost a lot of games, but people need to remember that I’ve won a lot of games too.”
The Nuggets have the No. 20 pick in the first round of this year’s draft.
NBA Chats: There are three NBA chats scheduled for today starting with HOOPSWORLD’s Anthony Macri at 10am. Coach Macri works with The AirAsia ASEAN Basketball League in Southeast Asia and is based in Jakarta. Coach Macri is involved in all aspects of the leagues operation as a consultant and has worked with dozens of NBA players developing their game. Senior NBA writer Eric Pincus will hold down his weekly NBA chat at 4pm EST. Eric covers the Western Conference from LA with the Lakers and the Clippers. Stephen Litel will wrap up the day with his weekly NBA Chat at 8pm EST. You can always find the next upcoming chat here: Upcoming NBA Chats.