Ed Stefanski: A History


Ed Stefanski was hired as president of the 76ers during the 2007-08 season and held the reins of the Sixers team until last summer, when Rod Thorn got his job, demoting Stefanski back to the GM role he had in New Jersey. Stefanski was the GM under Thorn in New Jersey before taking the Sixers gig, and it looks like he’s free to look elsewhere for a job.

From Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo:

"Three candidates have emerged as frontrunners for the Toronto Raptors’ general manager job, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.FormerNew Orleans Hornets GM Jeff Bower, Philadelphia 76ers GM Ed Stefanski and San Antonio assistant GM Dennis Lindsey are three focuses of the franchise to work under Toronto president Bryan Colangelo, sources said.…Stefanski is part of a regime change in Philadelphia, where new ownership is taking over and may overhaul basketball operations. Thorn came into Philadelphia a year ago as team president, usurping Stefanski’s power."

Sidenote: Usurping is the perfect word to describe the situation with Thorn and Stefanski. It’s spectacular.

Woj goes on to say that the process has just begun and that a hire would not take place until August. As I mentioned in the Sixers assistant coach opening story, it makes too much sense to not hire as of now. When teams are complaining of costs and millions of dollars in losses, not paying executives is a good way to limit costs.

No matter the outcome of this GM search, Ed Stefanski is more than likely out of Philadelphia once the ownership change is approved. Ditto for Rod Thorn. So him looking for other opportunities makes sense.

So with all of this in mind, I wanted to take a look at Stefanski’s record with the team and why he was usurped by Thorn.

Summer 2008 – End of 08-09

Signed Elton Brand to 5-year, nearly $80 million contract.

This story contains three separate deals:

  • Brand’s contract
  • Trading Kyle Korver for Gordan Giricek’s corpse and a pick
  • Trading aforementioned pick, Rodney Carney, and Calvin Booth (hey!) for what turned out to be nothing (a 2nd round pick).

When Stefanski came in, he delivered an edict to “play the young guys”. That worked out well for the team that year, as they made a playoff run. Part of that run included trading Kyle Korver to give more time to our younger perimeter players, including Thad Young, a rookie at the time. The Korver trade was regretted, but necessary. The other deal was solely made for cap space. The pick was top-55 protected.

Then Stefanski and company changed course. Instead of continuing to go with youth, the front office decided adding pieces and going for it was a good plan. And in theory, it should have worked. The Sixers were one of the most athletic teams in the NBA, thriving in the open-court, transition game but struggling to score in the half-court, slower-paced style that many top teams ran at the time. So they decided to address their biggest weakness with Brand.

Signing Brand was a risk no matter what – a 5-year contract for a veteran coming off an Achilles injury isn’t the safest move in the world. And no matter what Brand can realistically do in the next two years, the contract is a complete failure. Brand, injured again in the first year of the deal, has clogged the team’s cap space, while the team’s record hasn’t improved but for one game in the standings this past season. Moreover, the team looks to be tearing down the house around him, as his contract is the foundation* for our rebuilding efforts.

*I’ll stop now with the cliches. I promise.

VERDICT: Here, a move that backfired.

Signed Andre Iguodala to a 6-year, $80 million contract

This contract was considered too large at the time for most people. According to ESPN’s report at the time, the team was worried that Iguodala would only sign an offer sheet if offered fewer years or dollars. Value-wise, Iguodala is either slightly overpaid or fairly compensated depending on what you think of him. For 2011-12, Iguodala is the 27th highest-paid player in the league, according to HoopsHype.

Iguodala has been the Sixers’ best player over the course of his deal. While Iguodala may not be the superstar associated with this type of contract, he has performed up to expectations, becoming one of the premier defenders in the NBA.

VERDICT: This move, I believe, did not work out badly.

Signed Lou Williams to a 5-year, $25 million contract

Lou Williams signed this deal at age 21, coming off a season where he averaged double-digit points but struggled with his shooting. While calling this a bargain would admittedly be a stretch, Lou has provided a lot of value for the Sixers the past 3 seasons. Currently, Lou has 2 years left and will be a 26-year-old free agent at the end of the deal.

At the time, Lou was a restricted free agent, so he could have signed a one-year tender or an offer with another team. The contract seemed fair and turned out to be so. Again, Lou being 21, this deal was surprisingly low-risk.

VERDICT: This worked out quite well.

Signed veterans Royal Ivey, Kareem Rush, Donyell Marshall, and Theo Ratliff to contracts.

I can safely say that 3 of these 4 deals, for what they were worth, did not work out well. After signing Brand, Stefanski surrounded his new core with a slew of veteran role players. The problem? None meshed well with the style of play that the Sixers had used during the previous season. Stefanski signing Brand made sense in a way, offering an alternative to the up-court style the team played with. These 4 only helped to slow the pace further.

Marshall and Rush barely played. Ratliff didn’t play much either, though when he got time he played effectively. Ivey was a meaningful contributor as well.

VERDICT: Bad moves for 3 of the 4, since the money could have been used for younger players for the future. Royal Ivey is the exception, which we’ll get to later.

Drafted Marreese Speights 16th overall

Taken after Speights:

  • 17th – Roy Hibbert
  • 19th – J.J. Hickson
  • 21st – Ryan Anderson
  • 22nd – Courtney Lee
  • 24th – Serge Ibaka
  • 25th  – Nicolas Batum
  • 26th – George Hill
  • 27th – Darrell Arthur
  • 35th – DeAndre Jordan

All of these players, I would argue, have been much more valuable than Mo. He sweats potential, but Mo hasn’t delivered.

VERDICT: A bad pick.

Summer 2009 – End of 09-10

Signed Rodney Carney and Primoz Brezec

One of the victims of Eddie Jordan’s crazy rotations was Rodney Carney, a classic D-and-threes player if I ever saw one. Carney should still have been an NBA player, so I hope he can get back in the league on a full-time basis next year.

Carney was part of a clogged swingman rotation with Iguodala, Kapono, Young, and Willie Green, and as such didn’t see much time. The move wasn’t an huge failure, as there was little risk with signing him, but he should have been given more of a chance with this team. Twice.

Brezec barely existed as a Sixer. He was so bad that, even while standing at 7’1″, he was once rejected by the rim. I’m not sure he could dunk. His signing worked out, though.


Signed Allen Iverson

I tend to forget this actually happened. Done as much for his attendance impact as his on-court impact, the Iverson comeback was unsuccessful, but not regrettable. While he didn’t produce, it was as much of a non Jrue-related highlight we saw from that season. He eventually left the team, and with his minimum contract it didn’t hurt us any.

VERDICT: A good deal, surprisingly.

Traded Reggie Evans for Jason Kapono

Also didn’t work out well. Kapono struggled for the Sixers, eventually turning into almost a decoy* in his second season. While the Sixers needed his shooting, he never became a key player for the team. His lack of athleticism again did not mesh well with the team as it was.

*And by “almost a decoy” I mean TOTALLY a decoy.

Evans’ energy and size was missed by the team, especially this past year. Evans provides rebounding and toughness that, aside from Elton Brand and Tony Battie, the team lacked.

VERDICT: Another doomed deal.

Traded Brezec, Ivey, and a 2nd round pick for Jodie Meeks

Probably Stefanski’s best pure deal as GM, picking up Jodie Meeks for what amounts to nothing from Milwaukee. Milwaukee needed a third backup point guard for the stretch run in exchange for a potential role player in the making. Meeks was able to develop into that player.

Meeks was a solid contributor this past season as the starting shooting guard. While Meeks would, in a perfect world, fill in as a shooter off the bench, the team played better with him than without him, as I wrote in my real first post for this site.

VERDICT: Stefanski’s best work as GM of the team.

Drafted Jrue Holiday 17th overall

Getting Jrue Holiday was a great move, though this was as much of a luck pick as anything (though he could have played it safe and selected Maynor or Collison). I need not say any more.

Summer 2010

Signed Tony Battie

Battie filled a need as a 5th big on the team. He signed for the veteran’s minimum and, for that money, was well worth the deal. Unfortunately, he often became the 4th big as Marresse Speights fell out of favor with the coaches due to his defensive inabilities.

VERDICT: Not bad.

Traded Samuel Dalembert for Andre Nocioni and Spencer Hawes

Dalembert is an overpaid, offensively inept, work ethic-challenged center. He wanted out of this city. He wanted out of this team. Yet we probably didn’t win this deal. That is the wonder of this trade, how through trading an overpaid headache the Sixers managed to arguably get worse.

The Sixers managed without Dalembert defensively, though the hole cast in the trade was only filled somewhat by Hawes. While I believed Hawes to be a bad defender, his size alone made him average if not slightly better. The offensive up-grade that supposedly would accompany Hawes in the trade never materialized. While Dalembert had club-hands, he shot a high percentage from the field and line, he caught lobs well, and rebounded well offensively. Hawes could shoot a bit, but his overall numbers showed that he was an offensive downgrade from Dalembert.

Nocioni, meanwhile, is still under contract. He has no lateral quickness to defend any competent player and only shot at an average clip from both overall and behind the three-line.

VERDICT: This deal, despite what it accomplished in getting rid of Sam, was bad. Unless Hawes turns into a monster next year.

Drafted Evan Turner 2nd overall

Could we use another big man? Sure. But I’m okay with the Turner draft selection for now, and I was okay with it when it occurred. How Evan does in year 2 with help to further impact Stefanski’s legacy.

VERDICT: Unknown.


At this point, his power was indeed usurped. It’s safe to say he won’t be looking back on many of these deals to show Bryan Colangelo that he should be their new GM. But there are some strong points, especially when looking for value in small places.

My grade? Ranging between a C and a D. Many of the deals made sense but ultimately backfired, while others simply made no sense at all. One was clearly influenced by ownership, while another fell in his lap. I’m re-posting the vote on Ed’s grade, with all this information in tow. Vote now if you haven’t already:

It’s tough to say how Ed would do in Toronto. But for his sake? Hopefully better than he did here.


And before I go, a special thanks to basketball-reference.com for their executives page. This would have been impossible without it. Additional information from here, here, and here.