OKLAHOMA CITY – Philadelphia 76ers coach Doug Collins is making a push for increased organizational power and has been a driving force behind the movement to replace team president Rod Thorn, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.
Danny Ferry, a front-office executive with the San Antonio Spurs, met with 76ers owners in Philadelphia over the weekend to discuss a president/general manager’s job, sources said. Ferry has emerged as the frontrunner for the position, but still hasn’t been sold that the possible job structure makes sense for him to depart a comfortable situation under Spurs GM RC Buford.
Collins has been a strong advocate for Ferry’s candidacy, sources said.
The Thorn-Collins relationship has been problematic for the franchise for two years, and it grew more strained this past season with the departure of GM Ed Stefanski, who had served as a buffer between the executive and coach.
The Philadelphia Daily News reported on Tuesday morning that the Sixers had started the process of finding a replacement for Thorn.
Collins wants increased power, sources said, and ultimately wants a new GM to answer to him. Ferry, who was the Cleveland Cavaliers' GM from 2005-2010, is reluctant to accept the job without an ability to report direct to ownership, sources said. So far, Ferry has been on a fact-finding mission to understand the dynamics around how the organization will restructure the front office.
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Ferry and Collins do have a relationship, and working in collaboration on player personnel decisions appeals to Ferry. As Cavaliers GM, Ferry had a strong working relationship and partnership with coach Mike Brown. Still, Brown's and Collins' personalities are diametrically different.
Ownership is still torn over how much power to give Collins, and his insistence for player personnel autonomy could limit the pool of GM candidates interested in the job. With Josh Harris’ new ownership group taking over a year ago, they’ve learned quickly that Collins' coaching genius is tempered with a need for constant reassurance and maintenance. Nevertheless, Collins did a masterful job with the 76ers this season, reaching the seventh game in the conference semifinals against the Boston Celtics. Ownership considers him a valuable asset.
Another serious candidate with ties to Collins could be Milwaukee Bucks GM John Hammond, sources said. They have a working history together, and there’s a belief that Hammond’s even personality could co-exist with Collins. Nevertheless, Hammond is under contract with the Bucks, and there’s no indication he has interest leaving Milwaukee.
Thorn has a year left on his original three-year deal in Philadelphia, and has a significant consulting fee the Sixers pay him moving forward. Around the 76ers, many have been impressed with the grace and ease with which Thorn has handled the situation. Several sources say Thorn, 71, is at peace with the inevitable ending of his front-office run in the NBA.
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