PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Tony DiLeo worked two decades with the 76ers watching general managers apply every philosophy toward crafting an NBA champion.
None of them have worked.
DiLeo is about to try a radical one of his own.
DiLeo, introduced Monday as Philadelphia’s new general manager, is a firm believer in analytics and wants the Sixers to use the Moneyball-type of thinking popularized in baseball. Rebounds, points and assists only tell a slice of a player’s worth. DiLeo said there are alternative — and complex — ways of calculating a player’s value that won’t ever appear in “Harvey Pollack’s Statistical Yearbook.”
“We’re going to try and bring someone in that’s an expert in statistics and analytics, just to give us a competitive edge over these other organizations that don’t do it or are not at that level,” DiLeo said.
His methods are one of the reasons the Joshua Harris-led ownership group promoted DiLeo after a summer spent talking to other candidates. Ownership had also praised DiLeo for his role in acquiring All-Star center Andrew Bynum from the Los Angeles Lakers in a four-team deal.
Bynum’s arrival has the Sixers pegged as team that could stretch as far as the Eastern Conference finals.
When training camp open next week, Bynum will be the focus. The big question is how Bynum’s knees respond to treatment he had done last week in Germany. Bynum had injections of plasma-rich platelets that supposedly stimulate healing in arthritis-affected areas in both of his knees.
DiLeo said Bynum was feeling great and was cleared to play in camp.
Bynum could be joined by former All-Star Josh Howard, who has visited the team. The Sixers want to add a couple of more players to the camp roster.
That will be DiLeo’s call as tries to lead the Sixers to their first championship since 1983.
“We know we don’t have a perfect roster,” DiLeo said. “This year will be more of a transition year.”
DiLeo had held about every position with the Sixers for 23 years, even leading them to the playoffs in 2009 in a brief stint as head coach.
“There’s nowhere to go,” DiLeo said, smiling.
He withdrew his name from consideration in 2009 to return as the team’s coach and the Sixers hired Eddie Jordan. DiLeo was Philadelphia’s director of player personnel from 1999 to 2003.
One of DiLeo’s sons, T.J., is a senior guard for Temple.
DiLeo, however, was a finalist for Portland’s GM job this summer before staying with Philadelphia. As part of his return to the Sixers, DiLeo was not allowed to interview again with other teams, and he rejected overtures from two or three other teams.
DiLeo, who had been working as senior vice president, had the last of his two former interviews with Harris earlier this month.
Thorn has only one year left on his contract and has a provision that will allow him to become a consultant after his deal expires. DiLeo will likely assume both roles once the 2012-13 season is over.
“I’ll be the one leading the organization after Rod goes to a consulting job,” DiLeo said.
DiLeo will now oversee a team that underwent a dramatic makeover after advancing to the Eastern Conference semifinals last year. Led by Collins, the Sixers posted their first winning record (35-31) since 2004-05, and won a playoff series for the first time since 2003.
But the glow of that achievement soon faded once management realized the team had maxed out with veterans Andre Iguodala, Elton Brand, and Lou Williams. Iguodala was traded, Brand was amnestied and Williams was allowed to walk in free-agency, freeing up some needed dollars to sign Bynum.
The Sixers spent the summer interviewing several candidates for the job, including Atlanta Hawks GM Danny Ferry, former Portland assistant general manager Tom Penn and former New Orleans general manager Jeff Bowers.
Turns out, the man for the job was in Philadelphia all along.
“If there was a chance to be here as a general manager, that’s what I wanted to do,” he said.
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