Boston Celtics assistant general manager Mike Zarren is a serious candidate for the Sixers general manager position, sources with knowledge of the search told SI.com.
With incumbent Rod Thorn expected to transition to a consultant role once his replacement is found, the Sixers were reportedly deciding between former Portland assistant general manager and ESPN analyst Tom Penn and former New Orleans general manager Jeff Bower. Penn was considered the frontrunner just weeks ago, but sources say his candidacy has taken a serious hit while Zarren and Bower continue to jockey for the job.
Zarren is an intriguing addition to the field of prospects; a widely-respected purveyor of advanced player statistics in the NBA who is one of the least-known yet most-influential members of the Celtics' front office group. A lifelong Celtics fan and season-ticket holder who began as an unpaid intern in 2003, Zarren -- a Harvard Law graduate who has also served as Celtics' team counsel -- has become known as the right-hand man of general manager Danny Ainge. He is a regular speaker at the annual MIT Sloan Conference where so many NBA executives explore new ways to analyze players and teams in a more accurate, efficient and in-depth manner.
There may be a fourth candidate added to the mix as well, but the Sixers have no set timeline and are expected to conduct more interviews before making a decision. Philadelphia previously interviewed former Cleveland and San Antonio executive Danny Ferry before he was named Atlanta's general manager.
The job itself became far more appealing on Aug. 10, when the Sixers landed center Andrew Bynum in the four-team deal that sent Dwight Howard to the Lakers. There was already momentum for the organization that is entering its second season under a new ownership group headed by Josh Harris, as eight-seeded Philadelphia downed the top-seeded - and Derrick-Rose less - Bulls in the first round of the playoffs and took Boston to seven games in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
The Sixers lost two of their top three leading scorers in Lou Williams (via free agency to Atlanta) and Andre Iguodala (in the four-team trade, to Denver), but added shooting guard Nick Young and center Kwame Brown via free agency while trading with Golden State for small forward Dorell Wright.