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Stefanski relieved of duties as Sixers GM

THOUGH THE OUTCOME was somewhat expected by him and many others, it certainly didn't come about the way Ed Stefanski envisioned.

THOUGH THE OUTCOME was somewhat expected by him and many others, it certainly didn't come about the way Ed Stefanski envisioned.

Yesterday morning, not long before the sale of the 76ers was set to be announced at the Palestra, Stefanski, the Sixers' general manager, was informed that he was being relieved of his duties. The new ownership group, headed by Josh Harris, had decided to give president Rod Thorn full charge of the duties he and Stefanski had shared last season. Instead of Stefanski going to the place where he played his college ball, he was left uncertain about his future.

Stefanski had 1 year remaining on his contract, while Thorn, who was brought in in August 2010, after a dismal 27-55 season, has several years remaining on a hefty contract.

Said Stefanski, who came to the team in December 2007: "This is the new ownership's day. I wish them all the best. Having met with Josh and Adam [Aron, the new CEO], the Sixers are in capable hands."

Among the more noteworthy moves Stefanski made in his four seasons were giving maximum contracts to Andre Iguodala and Elton Brand, firing fan-favorite Maurice Cheeks, hiring and firing Eddie Jordan after one season, and bringing in current coach Doug Collins. The team made the playoffs in all but one of Stefanski's four seasons.

According to an NBA source, talks between the Toronto Raptors and Stefanski for their vacant GM job have "heated up."

"I'm incredibly thankful for Eddie trusting me to be the coach," said Collins, a huge Stefanski backer. "I didn't butt heads with [ownership] at all about the decision. As we sat down, and you know how strongly I feel about Eddie and I think he's an incredible president or GM, but I think the way they explained it best was they thought they had two guys who were fulfilling the same role. Eddie and Rod are both qualified to be presidents of organizations. But my hopes and prayers are that Eddie is going to land on his feet and that he's going to get a great job. Somebody out there is going to get a heck of a basketball guy.

"I know we had some ups-and-downs here. He made some great draft picks in Jrue Holiday and getting Jodie Meeks [via trade]. We got Evan [Turner] last year and getting Nik [Vucevic] this year. Sometimes we focus in on one or two mistakes a guy has made, but everybody makes mistakes in this business. I'm going to miss him. I don't think they [new ownership] wanted too many voices in the decision-making of different things."

And with the decision, Thorn is, according to Harris, "the captain of the ship." It is a role that excites the 70-year-old Thorn.

"We worked very well together, Eddie and I," Thorn said. "We'll all take on a little more without Eddie there. We certainly wish him nothing but the best and hope that it all works out for him. Both Doug and I have a lot of confidence in Ed, but we're also friends of his. Ed is a well-respected guy in this business. "

And though Thorn now gets the brunt of the day-to-day operations of the team, he certainly has a sounding board in his coach.

"For sure, I'll be leaning on Doug," Thorn said. "Doug knows as much about basketball as anybody. As we do now, we'll talk virtually daily about any decisions involving the basketball part of it. He'll have a huge input into what we do, as he does now, because I respect his acumen, I respect his knowledge about the sport and we'll work very closely."

Sale notes

When asked how long it would take to get a season started if an NBA labor agreement could be reached, most seemed to think about 10 days or so, with maybe one or two exhibition games or scrimmages . . . Doug Collins and his coaches are expected to be in the city next week and stay here until there is an agreement and the season starts.