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Jack McCaffery is the lead sports columnist for the Daily Times and He has spent several decades covering everything from the Phillies, Eagles, Flyers and Sixers, to college hoops, to high school sports in Delco.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Q and A with Sixers president Rod Thorn

Sixers president Rod Thorn sat in his PCOM office for an interview with the Daily Times Monday.

A transcript:

With two home games left, do you feel the Sixers should have achieved more this year?

"With the (Andrew) Bynum situation, we gave up some terrific assets in order to get Andrew. And Andrew hasn't been able to play. So I think we played about as well as we could play otherwise. I think we have done some good things. We had a bad stretch in the year. Obviously, we are finishing up here on a pretty high note. But we rolled the dice to so speak with Bynum. I think if we had Bynum, we'd be a really good team. And with him not being able to play, it's been a tough thing for us."

Do you have a timetable on deciding whether to bring Bynum back?

"I don't. He doesn't become a free agent until the end of June, the first of July."

Will that be your decision to make the offer?

"That decision? He is a free agent, he can go anywhere he wants to. It's not just what we want to do, it's what he wants to do, too."

Will the Sixers make an offer?

"We'll have to see what transpires."

Will that be your decision or ownership's?

"Ownership obviously will have a part in it. The basketball people will make recommendations and ownership will .. and doctors will play a big part in that."

So the Sixers will need some medical reports before deciding?

"Oh, for sure. Oh, yeah. You try to do your due diligence. As Andrew is a free agent, he'll do his due diligence and try to figure out exactly where he would like to play --- or he wouldn't, as the case may be. And from our perspective we will do our due diligence and try to figure out what we should do."

With a likely lottery pick, cap space and other things, would you agree that the Sixers have some assets as the offseason nears?

"If we don't make the playoffs, we'll certainly have a lottery pick. Right now we'd be an 11. Hopefully we will be able to get a good player there. (Jrue) Holiday became an All-Star. Thad (Young) has had a really good year. I think (Evan) Turner has had a good year. We have had other guys who have had good years. So we do have some assets. And hopefully, we certainly need to build on it. We lost (Nikola) Vucevic, who has had a terrific year. (Maurice) Harkless looks like he is going to be a very good player. (Andre) Iguodala was an All-Star here last year. So we lost some good assets. Plus Lou Williams did a good job for us. But we still have some good players and we just need to build on it."

Any regrets on so many offseason changes?

"You know something? When we did it, we didn't have any regrets about it. It just hasn't worked out because Andrew hasn't been able to play. So hindsight is always 20-20. But I go back to when we did what we did, everybody was on board with it and there were no second thoughts about it."

Do the Sixers have a good relationship with Bynum?

"Very good. Very good. Andrew has worked very hard. He wanted to come back. He was able to practice a couple of days, and then he had some swelling in his knee which ultimately led to him having the operation --- 'operations', one on each knee. And he worked very hard. He was working as hard as he possibly could. He has publicly stated that he feels he has been treated very well here and we feel that he worked as hard as he possibly could to come back. So I think there is a mutual respect."

The Sixers showed great patience not pressuring Bynym to return ... why?

"Obviously, when you are becoming a free agent, if there is any possible way that you can play, you will play. You want to show people that you are healthy and that you can play. I think he was excited about being on another team, being a go-to guy really on another team, whereas with the Lakers, they had several go-to guys. And here, he would have been one of the real go-do guys. I think he was looking forward to it. And again, I think he did everything he could to get ready. It just didn't work out."

Last year, you said this team needed better shooting. What does it need now?

"We probably still need some size. We have tried a bunch of guys as a backup point over the course of the year, and at different times, different guys have played well. But we need somebody to settle into that role who we know is going to play x-amont of minutes every night out on the court. We could still use some shooting out there. But I think we are a small team, if you really look at us. We are not very big without Bynum. And I think some size would certainly help us."

Doug Collins has called this his most challenging year in coaching.

"I think so. There were so many expectations. And from the start of the year, it was always, 'Is Bynym going to come back in a month? Is he going to come back here.' It has been a tough one, I think, for Coach, who puts his heart and soul into every game, who puts his heart and soul into every day. It hasn't worked out as well as he certainly would have liked. So I think it's been a tough year, but I give him a lot of credit. Our team hasn't quit playing. Our team is still playing hard and is still trying to do everything they can do. And our team has gotten better."

Tough year for you too?

"I think any time you are not successful, it's tough. Because you are judged in this business by wins and losses. That's how you are judged. And when you are losing more than you are winning, it's always tough. So I think for those of us on the administrative side of it, it's been a pretty long year also. But what you try to do is look at some of the things that have worked out. I think Spencer Hawes in the last month has shown that he can be a starting center in this league and has really played well. You wouldn't have seen in the middle of the season that that was going to happen. He has really, really played well. And there was developing Holiday. We put a lot on him when we let Lou and Iguodala go. He has become a real go-to guy and he has responded extraordinarily well. He is a terrific player. And I think Evan has gotten better; throughout the course of the year, I think his play has gotten better. So there have been some real bright spots for us. But at the end of the day, you are judged."

Are you anxious to get the offseason started to improve the team?

"Hopefully, we can end up on a high note, so that going into the offseason, players can think, 'Hey, we've got some good players here and we just some building --- a couple building blocks --- and we can be a lot better.' I think any time things don't go as well as you are hoping they'd go, that you are always anxious about the offseason. Because you have three ways you can try to build. You can build through the draft. You can build by trading. You can build by signing free agents. So depending on what happens with Andrew --- hopefully it will work out, but if it doesn't, we're going to have some cap room and we are going to need to make some good decisions about the guys we bring in."

Are you expecting to make trades?

"You never know when trades come. They can come at any time. Sometimes when you aren't even thinking about it, somebody may call and say, 'Hey, we're interested in such-and-such,' and you end up making a trade. But we're always looking to do something. And hopefully, it will work out that we can."

Any worries that Doug Collins won't be back?

"Oh, we certainly hope that he will. Doug is one of the top coaches in the league and has done a terrific job here over the course of his almost three years now, and I think everybody is hoping that he will be back. That decision ultimately will be up to him."

Does that mean you are not sure yet?

"He's under contract and everybody assumes that's what is going to happen. I didn't mean to infer anything. We certainly hope that he will be back, and we certainly expect him to."


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