Sources: Harris group eyes Devils, other entities


Sources: Harris group eyes Devils, other entities

Sixers majority owner Joshua Harris and his investment group are considering the purchase of another professional sports franchise.

On Wednesday, Fox 29’s Howard Eskin tweeted:

“‪#sixers owners hve more going than finding HC. Highly placed sources tell me Owner Josh Harris and his group bidding on ‪#NJ Devils purchase”

Multiple sources with knowledge of the situation confirmed Eskin’s report, but they also indicated that Harris’s group has considered purchasing one of at least three different sports-related entities. The Devils are among those potential investments. Harris’s group, which includes former Sixers CEO Adam Aaron, is believed to be relatively small, but the acquisition team working on its behalf is at least 12 people deep.

According to Forbes, Harris is worth $2.1 billion. In 2011, he and the current Sixers ownership group bought the team for a reported $287 million. As of January 2013, Forbes valued the Sixers at $418 million.

In January 2012, the Devils were reportedly worth $205 million, but the actual value of the franchise remains hazy. Owner Jeff Vanderbeek is believed to be $230 million in debt because of his stake in the team and the Prudential Center, where the Devils play. According to Forbes, the Prudential Center alone could be “sold for under $200 million.” The Sixers play at the Wells Fargo Center, which is owned by Comcast-Spectacor.

Along with Harris, the new investment group is led primarily by David Blitzer. Blitzer, one of the Sixers’ owners, graduated magna cum laude from the Wharton School of Business. Blitzer is a senior managing director and head of tactical opportunities for Blackstone, the world’s biggest private equity firm by assets.

According to Bloomberg, Blackstone reported $3.3 billion in revenue last year. Blitzer, who joined the firm in 1991 and started its European private-equity business in 2002, reportedly manages a $1.5 billion fund on behalf of Blackstone.

Blitzer’s Blackstone bio says he’s helped execute investments that include “Spirit Group, SULO, Allied Waste, Aspen Insurance Holdings, Houghton Mifflin, Universal Orlando, Centerplate, Cadillac Fairview, Edward J. DeBartolo Corporation, Southern Cross, NHP, Orangina, and United Biscuits.”

Jahlil Okafor eager for more minutes as knee heals

Jahlil Okafor eager for more minutes as knee heals

CAMDEN, N.J. — Jahlil Okafor has been patient with his right knee. He was disciplined with restrictions and recovery during the preseason, recognizing the goal of being ready for opening night. 

At the same time, once he got back on the court he wanted more. Okafor played eight minutes Friday against the Heat, his first game since Feb. 28 before undergoing surgery to repair a right meniscus tear. 

“I don’t think I’m going to do eight again,” Okafor said Sunday. “They kind of heard me complain about that a lot. I think it’ll definitely be more than eight, but it won’t be much more.” 

Okafor has been limited since reaggravating his knee during the final day of training camp. He practiced “to tolerance” on Sunday, according to the Sixers. Okafor did not participate in the team scrimmage and worked out individually with assistant coach/head of strength and conditioning Todd Wright. 

The second-year big man did not feel soreness on Saturday following the game. On Sunday, he felt “kind of stiff” during practice. Brett Brown has been watching Okafor’s movement closely. While Okafor considered it to be “good,” Brown was a tougher critic. 

“I think he looked OK,” Brown said. “He didn’t look great to me today. I’ll give him a B-minus … It’s always how do you move? East, west, north, south, how do you move?” 

Okafor scored four points, one rebound, one assist, one block and one turnover in Miami. He focused on his defense during the game. When he subbed out, he checked in with Elton Brand on the bench to receive feedback from the now-retired veteran. Okafor plans to continue to tap into him for advice throughout the season. 

With opening night three days away, Okafor still plans to be on the floor for it.

“I am optimistic about it,” he said. “I should be ready to go.” 

Robert Covington sprained his right ankle in Friday’s game and did not practice Sunday. Brown anticipates Covington, who has been starting at small forward, also will be ready to go Wednesday. 

“I do (expect him to play),” Brown said. “But we won’t know that for sure yet.” 

Sixers waive retired Elton Brand
The Sixers waived Brand on Sunday, making his retirement official. Brand announced his intentions to walk away from the game Thursday. The Sixers' request of waivers was a procedural step. The roster currently stands at 19. 

“It’s been an honor, it’s been a privilege to play this game, the game that I love, and I’m certainly going to miss it,” Brand said last week (see story). “But it’s definitely time now.” 

Brand celebrated his career with his teammates at Komodo in Miami on Thursday night ahead of their preseason finale against the Heat. 

Report: Nerlens Noel expected out 3-5 weeks after left knee surgery

Report: Nerlens Noel expected out 3-5 weeks after left knee surgery

It appears the Sixers' frontcourt logjam may not be an issue early on.

Nerlens Noel, who is having surgery Monday for an inflamed plica in his left knee, will miss the first three to five weeks of the season, according to Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Noel suffered a left groin injury in the first preseason game against the Celtics and missed the rest of the preseason. While undergoing treatment, Noel reported left knee soreness, which led to the discovery of the inflamed plica.

It's been an odd start to the season for Noel. The big man was outspoken about his displeasure with the Sixers' frontcourt situation early in camp. With the deadline for Noel's rookie contract extension approaching on Oct. 31, the team has not had conversations about it, according to a report.

The Sixers are already without No. 1 overall pick Ben Simmons as he recovers from surgery to repair a Jones fracture in his right foot. The team will also be without their starting point guard Jerryd Bayless who is dealing with a ligament issue in his left wrist. Bayless won't require surgery and will be reevaluated in two weeks.