LAS VEGAS -- Former Trail Blazers executive Tom Penn is a candidate for the Philadelphia 76ers' day-to-day general manager position under team president Rod Thorn, league sources told CBSSports.com on Sunday.
Penn was vice president for basketball operations in Portland before owner Paul Allen purged the front office in 2010. He recently interviewed for the Magic's GM position and was offered the Timberwolves' GM job that ultimately went to David Kahn in 2009.
One of the league's top experts on the salary cap and intricacies of the collective bargaining agreement, Penn would be a strong hire for the Sixers as they navigate the new labor deal and how it has dramatically affected payroll and planning strategies. Penn interviewed for the job in recent days, sources said, and was seen with Sixers managing partner Joshua Harris Thursday night at Summer League games in Las Vegas.
Penn has been working as an ESPN analyst since he was let go by the Blazers two years ago, only weeks before GM Kevin Pritchard was fired on draft night in 2010. Pritchard is GM of the Pacers. Rich Cho, who was hired to replace him, landed in Charlotte after the Blazers fired him after less than a year on the job.
Sources say the Sixers' ownership group, headed by Harris and private-equity guru David Blitzer, is expected to consider several candidates to handle the day-to-day duties under Thorn and eventually succeed him as team president. The Sixers previously interviewed former Spurs and Cavaliers exec Danny Ferry, who was later hired to the GM post in Atlanta.
Penn's mastery of cap mechanics played an integral role in the Trail Blazers' run of success that stalled with significant injuries to 2007 No. 1 pick Greg Oden and former All-Star Brandon Roy. Those skills are more valuable than ever with the adoption of a CBA that includes shorter contracts, the amnesty and stretch provisions and tricky restrictions on luxury tax-paying teams -- all of which are resulting in swifter player movement and smaller windows for success and failure.
The Sixers' offseason has been eventful, with the additions of Nick Young, Dorell Wright and Kwame Brown, the loss of free-agent Lou Willams to the Hawks and the decision to amnesty veteran power forward Elton Brand. The ownership group led by Harris and Blitzer completed its purchase of the team from Comcast-Spectacor in October 2011.