A group led by New York investor Joshua Harris is reportedly in serious talks to purchase the Philadelphia 76ers, according to a report by ESPN's Henry Abbott. Jason Levien is perhaps the most interesting name included in the report; Levien formerly served as a player agent, representing Kevin Martin when he signed a $55 million extension with the Sacramento Kings and Luol Deng upon signing a $71 million deal with the Chicago Bulls.
As such, Levien gave up a lot of money upon ending his agent business and agreeing to become the assistant general manager for the Kings in 2008.
That arrangement lasted only 18 months; Levien resigned in 2010 after a reported chill between he and the man he was hired to back up, Geoff Petrie. Sources continue to disagree as to whether there was a legit plan for Levien to succeed Petrie someday. But tension over the 2009 NBA Draft, where Levien reportedly set up a workout for Ricky Rubio without involvement from Petrie and where many inside the Sacramento front office felt Levien was pushing Rubio over Tyreke Evans (the eventual pick), pushed the two apart.
Sources indicate that Levien actually advised against picking Rubio due to contract issues in Spain, and sources also say that the Maloofs (who own the Kings) OKed the Rubio workout. Regardless, Petrie pushed a front office reorganization that involved promoting longtime assistant GM Wayne Cooper over Levien, and elevating scout Mike Petrie -- the GM's son -- to assistant GM. Months later, when the business and marketing side of the Kings underwent a shift, Levien saw a senior VP added to his title, reportedly making Petrie smolder.
Levien was then, according to sources, cut out of the 2010 NBA Draft process almost entirely, and told quietly to stay in New York to help the Maloofs on business items. He resigned that offseason, and was mentioned for GM openings in Phoenix and Denver.
As part of the potential new ownership group in Philadelphia, would he be looking to take control of basketball operations? He was clearly interested in running a team upon joining the Kings, but it's not clear if the experience in Sacramento left him "over" the basketball ops experience. Either way, the ripple effects of new ownership may not salvage Rod Thorn's term in Philadelphia.