Tuesday, June 7, 2011
Posted: 11:52 a.m. Updated: 8:24 p.m.
By Dei Lynam
After a season in which Sixers fans were encouraged by the resurgence of their pro basketball team led by their passionate head coach, Doug Collins, there surprisingly appears to be a changing of the guard in store for the franchise.
According to a source, Comcast-Spectacor is in talks to sell the team to a group led by Joshua Harris, co-founder of Apollo Global Management. Comcast-Spectacor President Peter Luukko released the following statement Tuesday afternoon.
I can confirm that we are in discussions about the future of the team, but these discussions are confidential and we cannot talk about the details. At some point, we may have something more to say about these discussions, but we will not be making any comments at this point.
Harris, David Blitzer of the Blackstone Group and Jason Levien, a former sports agent and assistant general manager with the Sacramento Kings, comprise the group pursuing the deal. Harris and Blitzer are both graduates of the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business.
The league's Board of Governors would have to approve the sale. The Sixers were valued this year by Forbes at 330 million, 17th in the NBA. Comcast SportsNet's deal with the team runs through 2029.
"The thing that they're buying is the cable," Forbes media executive editor Mike Ozanian told the Associated Press. "That's the biggest part of the asset. It's been undermonetized, the cable deal.
"They've got to get at least twice of what they've been getting. It's under 13 million a year. They'll have no problem. It's pure profit because there's no cost associated with that."
And a potential lockout doesnt necessarily hurt a potential sale.
"A labor stoppage can work to your advantage," he said. "If you believe they're going to get a significantly lower salary cap, and a hard salary cap, it can be positive for team values and profits."
On April 24, 1996, Comcast-Spectacor, led by chairman Ed Snider, bought the 76ers from Harold Katz (see box). Comcast-Spectacor also owns the Flyers, whom Snider founded in 1966. He has often contested the idea that he favors the Flyers.
"I guess it's the difference of having your own baby or adopting your child," Snider said years ago in an interview with the Associated Press. "I've adopted the Sixers and I love the Sixers. I really do. But hockey, I started from scratch."
The Sixers won their last championship during Katzs 15-year tenure. After losing the Finals to the Lakers in 1982, the Sixers added Moses Malone and swept the Lakers the following season to win the third title in franchise history.
In 1996 two months into Comcast-Spectacors ownership the Sixers selected Allen Iverson with the first overall pick of the draft. Hall of Fame coach Larry Brown was hired in May the next year, and five springs later the Sixers made their next appearance in the NBA Finals when again they met the Lakers and unfortunately lost, this time in five games.
Since the 2001 Finals the Sixers have won only one playoff series, and consequently their attendance has trailed that of the Phillies, Eagles and Flyers all of whom have been consistent championship contenders.
The Sixers have changed coaches seven times, including two interim hires. They have six trips to the postseason and exited in the first round five times. Trades have been made, free agents signed, general managers changed and most recently a new team president (Rod Thorn) added.
But this season was a positive step. The Sixers won 41 games and were eliminated in a competitive five-game series by the Miami Heat, who are two wins shy of the NBA championship. Breathing new life into the franchise doesnt have to be on the ownership side alone.
Andre Iguodala is and will be mentioned in trade rumors from now until his current contract expires after the 2013-14 season (players option).
His six-year, 82 million deal, signed three years ago, never will be viewed as money well deserved, and the Sixers have two needs -- a defensive minded big man and a true scorer.
They've reportedly discussed trading Iguodala to Golden State for Monta Ellis -- a deal that has come up before in large part because the two players make similar salaries, and each player would fill a need for their new team.
The Warriors were 27th in points allowed this past season. Iguodala, a second team all-defensive player, would significantly improve that end of the floor for them. Plus, Iguodalas desire to pass first would suit the likes of shooters Stephen Curry and Dorrell Wright.
Meanwhile Ellis, who for his five-year career has averaged 19.4 points, shooting 47 percent from the floor and 33 percent from three-point range, would be a legitimate scorer that the Sixers have been lacking since they traded Iverson in 2006.
Ellis is not known for his defense, and he is only 6-foot-3, but gambling is part of building contenders, and the Sixers' status quo is known mediocrity.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.
Related: Report: Sixers, Warriors talk Iguodala-Ellis swap Sixers' Brackins adds tools in hopes of bigger role