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Sources: Sixers made run at Nuggets' Ujiri

UPDATED:10:28 a.m. ET

It's been two months since the Philadelphia 76ers seemed on the verge of hiring a general manager and eventual successor to team president Rod Thorn. Their search has taken quite a few twists and turns, including exploratory talks with Nuggets GM Masai Ujiri, two people familiar with the situation told CBSSports.com.

The Sixers were prepared to ask permission to interview Ujiri, one of the rising stars of the NBA's executive ranks, but were rebuffed, one of the sources said. An offer was never extended, according to another source who downplayed the extent of Philly's pursuit, first reported by Yahoo Sports.

The Sixers on Friday agreed to a deal promoting assistant GM Tony DiLeo to general mnager under president Rod Thorn, a league source told CBSSports.com. Thorn will stay in his role for the time being, and DiLeo will eventually replace him as part of the team's previously agreed upon succession plan when Thorn retires, the source said.

According to one of the people with knowledge of the matter, Ujiri mutually decided with Nuggets ownership to stay the course in Denver, where he has substantially remodeled and upgraded the Nuggets' roster since trading Carmelo Anthony to the Knicks in February 2011. Ujiri also managed to get involved in the Dwight Howard sweepstakes and earned the respect of his peers by winding up with Andre Iguodala in the deal while also moving future salary.

It was after the Howard trade, in which the Sixers received Andrew Bynum from the Lakers, that Philadelphia asked permission to interview Ujiri, the sources said. But the Denver executive's confidence in the organization and the Kroenke family, led by acting owner Josh, led him to stay.

With one year left on his contract, the Nuggets will have to step up with an extension offer. Preliminary conversations already have occurred, but some of Ujiri's peers are skeptical that the Nuggets will be willing to step up and pay anything close to what the Sixers would've offered.

The Sixers job ultimately would've involved replacing Thorn as the top basketball decision-maker in the organzation and would've likely paid Ujiri close to $2 million a year -- more than doubling his current salary.

The Sixers also have interviewed former Trail Blazers executive Tom Penn and former Hornets executive Jeff Bower, among others, for the job.

 
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