Almost one year ago, Tony DiLeo left a conversation with 76ers principal owner Joshua Harris in which DiLeo, who has coached the team, headed up the scouting department and had been team president and general manager Rod Thorn's right-hand man in a 22-year career with the team, made it known that being the team's general manager was his ultimate goal.
On Friday, the Sixers granted DiLeo's wish, promoting him from executive vice president of basketball operations to general manager.
"I have been a coach. It's fun, but basically you have no life," DiLeo said. "But this, I think I can have more of an impact. I think I fit this role better and I think I can have more of an impact than in coaching."
Making his first appearance in his new role with the team at a news conference at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, DiLeo spent most of the time talking about his new role.
While he will continue to work alongside Thorn, who will assume a consultant role with the team at the end of the 2012-13 season, DiLeo has already begun to implement changes designed to make the Sixers, who open training camp next week, stronger.
DiLeo said he will begin immediately bolstering the scouting department, emphasizing that the team will have a stronger reach in Europe and abroad. He will also head up the team's search for an executive with an "analytical" approach to building rosters and evaluating player value. It was reported by some that the Sixers might go this route in hiring for DiLeo's position.
"I'm a big believer in that so we're going to try to bring someone in who is 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. "We feel that if we can supplement our basketball minds with the analytical part of it, that will give us more of an advantage and it will give me more information so that I can make better decisions."
DiLeo plays down his role in the reconstruction of the present roster, which has 13 players signed to contracts. However, Thorn has said repeatedly that DiLeo played a major role in helping the Sixers acquire all-star center Andrew Bynum, veteran shooting guard Jason Richardson, and, in general, helping construct a roster that has the potential to be significantly better than any Sixers team in recent years.
DiLeo said the Sixers are interested in signing Bynum to an extension. There have been no negotiations on a new contract because an extension can't be signed by the player until February. The Sixers can sign him to a longer and more lucrative contract than any other team next summer.
DiLeo also said that the trades of Andre Iguodala (to the Denver Nuggets) and rookie Maurice Harkless (to the Orlando Magic) as part of the Bynum blockbuster has left the Sixers in need of small forwards. DiLeo said that the Sixers will look at "other options at small forward, maybe one or two more."
According to sources, the Sixers worked out free agent Josh Howard and Monday, and will do so again Tuesday.
DiLeo, who was a finalist for the Portland Trail Blazers job that ultimately went to Neil Olshey, appeared to be a bit of a long shot in recent weeks. However, in early September he presented the ownership group with a detailed plan for the organization. A few weeks later and now he is steering the Sixers.
DiLeo did get a hint from Harris that the Sixers were very interested in him. After meeting with Portland, Harris and DiLeo agreed that he would not speak with any more teams that were interested in his services.
DiLeo said there were three other teams interested.
"It worked out well in the end," DiLeo said. "This is where I wanted to be all along.