Before widening their search for a general manager this summer, the Philadelphia 76ers aggressively pursued Denver Nuggets GM Masai Ujiri, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.
The 76ers were granted permission to talk to Ujiri earlier in the summer, but he ultimately resisted what would've been a lucrative package to replace Sixers president and GM Rod Thorn, sources said.
Ujiri has emerged as a rising star among league front-office executives and had been the 76ers' primary target along with new Atlanta Hawks GM Danny Ferry, sources said.
The 76ers have narrowed the search and appear to be leaning toward promoting assistant GM Tony DiLeo to the GM job, league sources said. The 76ers had considered former New Orleans Hornets GM Jeff Bower, but as the Philadelphia Inquirer recently reported, DiLeo has emerged as the favorite to take over for Thorn.
The Sixers' ownership group had believed it could lure Ujiri, one of the lowest-paid GMs in the league, with a $2 million-plus annual package, sources said. Nevertheless, Ujiri's strong relationship and trust in Denver president Josh Kroenke and owner Stan Kroenke, as well as his investment in a promising roster, led him to stay the course in Denver.
Ujiri has a year left on his original three-year deal, and Denver will likely need to secure him with a long-term commitment to stave off future suitors.
Ujiri has played an immense role in stabilizing Denver's front office and reshaping the Nuggets' roster in the wake of the Carmelo Anthony trade. Philadelphia recruited Ujiri and the Nuggets to facilitate the four-way deal with the Los Angeles Lakers and Orlando Magic that brought the Nuggets All-Star forward Andre Iguodala as part of the Dwight Howard-Andrew Bynum blockbuster trade.
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