The ink is barely dry on the Philadelphia 76ers contract to sell the team, in fact the league hasn't even approved the deal yet, but if the rumors are to be believed, Joshua Harris and Co. are already moving in the right direction. Yahoo is reporting Ed Stefanski is among the final candidates for the General Manager position in Toronto.
Kate Fagan added a bit more color to the story, pointing out Stefanski is still under contract with the Sixers, but has been given permission (if not encouragement) to look elsewhere for employment. With Jason Levien already attached to the new ownership group, it was only a matter of time before power was redistributed in the front office.
Stefanski started out strong for the Sixers, when you look back on things. His first move after taking over for Billy King in 2007 was to trade Kyle Korver in a deal that would help maximize the team's cap space the following summer. He then used that cap space to lure the best free agent on the market, Elton Brand, to join his surprising young team. That summer he also extended Andre Iguodala and Lou Williams, then peppered the roster with a few veterans to fill the holes (Theo Ratliff, Donyell Marshall and Kareem Rush). Pretty much from the opening night of the 2008-2009 season, though, Stefanski has been in a downward spiral.
He sealed his own fate when he hired an old buddy from his time with the Nets, Eddie Jordan, to coach the Sixers. It was a mistake ownership is still paying for, and it's a mistake that most likely cost him the autonomy of being the President and GM. Rod Thorn was brought in last summer to clean up his mess, now Stefanski has dusted off his resume and he's looking elsewhere for work.
It's a shame the Brand signing didn't work out as expected. If Brand was a bit healthier in his first year and Mo Cheeks had been able to figure out how to use him, the Sixers may have continued their rise in the Eastern Conference, but knowing what we know now about Brand's health and the team's fortunes, there's no way to look kindly upon the moves Stefanski made before losing power in Philly's front office. He was a failure as a general manager here, and in any other business, it would be a shock to see a failure get an immediate chance at redemption from a competitor, but this is the NBA. The league where recycling failures is a time honored tradition. Honestly, Toronto seems like a perfect fit for Stefanski. Signing Andrea Bargnani to a max extension is exactly the type of move he would've made.
If Stefanski does land the job, and we should all cross our fingers that he does, the previous two failed Sixers GMs would both have jobs as key decision makers in the Atlantic Division (Billy King is in NJ as well). How's that for a silver lining?
As for the Sixers, cutting ties with Stefanski is the first in what will hopefully be a long list of steps in the right direction. Joshua Harris and Co. need to put their stamp on the franchise to energize the fanbase and make Philly an attractive destination for free agents and disgruntled stars alike. Cleaning house is a good start.