5 Perfect GM Candidates for the Philadelphia 76ers

Alec NathanFeatured ColumnistAugust 27, 2012

5 Perfect GM Candidates for the Philadelphia 76ers

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    The Philadelphia 76ers pulled off one of the greatest trades in franchise history earlier this month, and they did so with a front office that's very much in flux.

    The presiding general manager, Rod Thorn, has stated that he will move to a role as a team consultant, and will actively be searching to hire the franchise's next GM.

    Despite taking heavy criticism for failing to change the look of the team, Thorn did an immaculate job at over 70 years of age to acquire Andrew Bynum and a host of wing players who will give the team a dangerous new look.

    With Josh Harris and the Sixers' new ownership looking like the real deal, the Sixers would be wise to take their time in hiring the next face of their front office.

    Here are five candidates who would be perfect fits for the Sixers' open general manager position.

Tom Penn

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    According to CBSSports.com, Tom Penn has been in the running for the 76ers' general manager position since late July.

    Penn, of course, is the former Portland Trail Blazers front office man who has famously made a career out of breaking down complex salary cap issues for ESPN.

    Penn doesn't sound like a sexy candidate on the surface, but he brings an enhanced knowledge of the cap, and how to best maximize its fairly limited space.

    Given the Sixers' struggles in the past with hefty and unwarranted contracts, Penn looks like an even more attractive option.

    When you start to consider that the Sixers only have eight players on the books for the 2013-2014 season, things start to get interesting. With Penn in the fold, the Sixers could surely find ways to get creative and add some key pieces.

    Hiring Penn would be a smart move for one of the league's brightest young franchises.

Mike Zarren

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    According to Sam Amick of Sports Illustrated, Mike Zarren, the assistant general manager of the Boston Celtics, is a finalist for the Sixers' open general manager position.

    Zarren isn't a hot name to the average basketball fan, but as Amick explains, he's one of the more qualified candidates out there:

    Zarren is an intriguing addition to the field of prospects; a widely-respected purveyor of advanced player statistics in the NBA who is one of the least-known yet most-influential members of the Celtics' front office group. A lifelong Celtics fan and season-ticket holder who began as an unpaid intern in 2003, Zarren -- a Harvard Law graduate who has also served as Celtics' team counsel -- has become known as the right-hand man of general manager Danny Ainge.

    As you will see later, Zarren is one of two candidates the Sixers have considered who has an intricate knowledge of advanced statistics. In recent years the rapid technological growth of the NBA has taken shape, especially on the internet, where advanced statistics have become serious barometers of player performance.

    Zarren's experience helping to build and reshape the Celtics roster should make him an even more intriguing hire should the Sixers decide he's the right man for the job.

Sam Hinkie

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    According to Sam Amick of Sports Illustrated, the Sixers are also intrigued by Houston Rockets' front office mind Sam Hinkie.

    Hinkie, like Zarren, is known for being a huge proponent of the advanced statistics movement. If there's one thing that has become clear, it's that Josh Harris, Adam Aron and the rest of the Sixers' ownership group is very intrigued by this new-wave movement.

    For years the Sixers have had general managers who thought too conventionally, leading to lousy trades, worse contracts and mediocre results.

    Under Billy King and Ed Stefanski, the Sixers never seemed to think outside the box, and that's exactly what guys like Hinkie and Zarren are known for doing.

    Although it may seem that someone like Hinkie was drawn straight out of Moneyball, his methods have proven to be effective to some degree with the Rockets.

    Should the Sixers eventually hire Hinkie or even Zarren, the franchise will have taken yet another step in the right direction.

Jeff Bower

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    According to a tweet from John Mitchell of the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Philadelphia 76ers have already conducted two interviews with former New Orleans Hornets general manager Jeff Bower.

    Despite not leading the Hornets to loads of success during his time as the team's general manager, he was able to put some nice pieces on the floor, most notably point guard Chris Paul.

    Bower tends to be a less attractive pick to the naked eye because he's more old-fashioned, and doesn't boast the sort of flashy new-age perspective that several of the other candidates do.

    However, given a fresh start and some bright basketball minds around him, Bower would be in a situation to succeed in one of the NBA's largest markets.

Tony DiLeo

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    Philadelphia 76ers fans were acquainted with Tony DiLeo during his brief stint as the team's head coach in 2008-09. 

    DiLeo is not a very public face in the Sixers' front office, but as the team's Senior Vice President of Basketball Operations, he has been an important figure in the team's many moves this offseason.

    According to the Sixers' official team website, "DiLeo assists President of Basketball Operations Rod Thorn with player procurement through his evaluation of amateur and professional talent and supervises the team’s draft which in recent years has produced the likes of Andre Iguodala, Lou Williams, Thaddeus Young, Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner."

    With a proven track record and intimate knowledge of the team, DiLeo could be a really nice candidate for the team's general manager position.

    By promoting DiLeo, the Sixers would be able to go through a very quiet transition phase, with familiar faces taking on new roles.

    As the right-hand man to Rod Thorn, DiLeo has what it takes to be the team's next general manager.