Sixers Mailbag #19: Reaction to Sam Hinkie’s Resignation
This week we continue our 76ers mailbag series, where we discuss some of the pressing topics around the team.
In the 19th edition of our Sixers mailbag we react to the news that Sam Hinkie has stepped down as president and general manager of the Philadelphia 76ers, to be replaced by former Phoenix Suns and Toronto Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo.
Note: any opinions expressed here are my own opinions, and not reports or expectations based off of inside information, unless I explicitly state that a statement is based off of inside information.
“What is a safe bet for Dario Saric‘s reaction to Hinkie’s resignation, and how does it effect his situation, if at all?”
Hinkie has been over to Istanbul to see Saric play, and I’m sure there’s some level of a connection there. But I would guess the impact is minimal, if at all. If Saric comes over, it’s because he wants to take on the challenge of competing in the best league in the world. If Saric stays with Anadolu Efes for the final year of his contract, it’s to maximize his earning potential. I don’t think the Hinkie situation really changes that basic equation all that much.
“How does Bryan Colangelo’s track record “speak for itself” ?”
The Sixers’ ownership group doesn’t have anybody with real experience in the game, and the job search was headed up by Scott O’Neil, a marketing guy who wants to play the part. The only “basketball guy” in the organization allegedly recused himself from the hiring process, which means the realistic outcomes are that he either pushed for his son and wasn’t capable of being unbiased in the hiring process, or provided virtually no input for a hiring party that desperately needed it. I think it’s fair to question whether they would know what qualifies as a resume that “speaks for itself”.
Now, Colangelo’s had enough success in the league to earn him the right to interview for the position. I do believe that. But there’s a lot of talent in the executive ranks in this league, including young up-and-comers who may not be household names. Barring R.C. Buford or Bob Myers walking through that door, there’s nobody else I would hire without interviewing as many candidates as possible first, and Colangelo’s track record is enough of a mixed bag that he shouldn’t have been essentially awarded the job based on his track record alone. The Sixers should have done their due diligence. Should you feel cheated as a fan? Absolutely. And that’s irrespective of whether Colangelo was ultimately the right hiring or not.
“Any word on if/how Bryan is going to work with Hinkie’s existing analytics team?”
I think that’s still very much in the air. My guess is the guys in place, unless they decide to leave on their own, will be here at least through the draft process. There’s probably too little time to build a new team and have them be functioning at a high level by the time June’s draft rolls around. But Colangelo has been an executive for a long time in this league and has legitimately embraced analytics, so it’s safe to assume he probably has guys that he trusts from his prior experience. I think there’s definitely some uncertainty among much of the front office staff right now.
‘Will Hinkie find another NBA job or did Adam Silver and Jerry Colangelo force him out of the league for good?”
Hinkie could get another job in basketball. I have little doubt about that. Whether or not he has the complete package of talent evaluation and interpersonal skills to hold the top job is something an owner is going to have to determine, and my guess is he’d probably have to work his way back up to another general manager position, by starting as a director of analytics, an assistant general manager, or something similar. But, I have no doubt there are many organizations that could find a role for him in basketball.
“If Sacramento offers GM job to Hinkie, does he accept?”
I just said above that I think he’s probably going to have to start at a lower level job and work his way back up, through hard work, mending relationships around the league, and perhaps some future success from the Sixers driven by guys he either drafted, or put the Sixers in position to draft. So if a GM job opened up right away, he should take it, right? Not Sacramento. Ownership is the most crucial ingredient in a winning team, and Vivek doesn’t have the long term vision, conviction, patience, or judgement to be somebody I would consider working for, if I were in Hinkie’s shoes.
“Do you think ownership realizes the mistakes they made RE:Hinkie/Colangelo?”
Why do you think ownership believes they made a mistake? Because some fans are unhappy?
When ownership brought in Jerry Colangelo, they had to have known this was an outcome that was in the realm of possibility. When they decided to bring in another high-level executive on, or above, Hinkie’s level, they would have been fooling themselves to think this wasn’t an outcome that was likely, even if the timing may have caught them off guard. When they decided it was going to be Colangelo and son? They had to have been willing to make the Hinkie-for-Colangelo trade, if they had any common sense about them. Nothing that’s happened since then is likely to have changed that.
“How worried, if at all, should I be of Sixers being under-prepared for the draft after changing GMs so close to draft day?”
Certainly there should be some concern. The draft, despite the Andrea Bargnani selection, is the area that I have the most confidence in Bryan Colangelo going forward. That being said, Sam Hinkie was a big part of the draft process for the Sixers. He was absolutely hands on in that regard, and traveled as much as any general manager in the league. Even if Bryan has the skill and experience to be successful, getting up to speed in 2 months is going to be tough regardless, especially for somebody who wasn’t directly involved in the game prior to his hiring, as Hinkie was when he was hired away from Houston in May 2013.
“My gut feeling is Bryan Colangelo tries to make a splash on draft night. What’s the worst case scenario?”
Taking Buddy Hield 3rd overall because they “need a shooting guard”. That’s honestly my biggest concern. Obviously, there are trades that can be made on draft night that would be more damaging, but that’s so cloudy it would be hard to even really address here.
“I am not being sarcastic – What is a “basketball guy”? Can you define the criteria? I can’t figure it out.”
I do think growing up around the sport, as Bryan did, has some value. So I think that helps. I do also think playing helps, and playing at higher levels of basketball does add context to decision making, although being a great player has, time and again, proven to not be a guarantee for success. But I do think if you’ve been an executive for 12 years, as Hinkie has, and have scoured the globe scouting in person, spending your winters in crowded Croatian gyms, you’re probably a basketball guy as well. Hinkie was painted as this numbers geek with no basketball background who didn’t value traditional scouting, and that just wasn’t the case.
And, let’s be honest, looking like a jock who played the game is also part of the “basketball guy” narrative.
“If LAL pick doesn’t convey, what do you think the highest the Sixers could get by trading OKC and MIA picks?”
Just the OKC and Miami picks? Probably not too high. I would guess 16-20 at the highest. The Bulls used the 19th pick to move up 5 spots back in 2014. Now, the higher up in the draft you go, the harder it is to move up, so moving up from 24th should be easier than moving up from 16th, but I don’t think the 26th pick in the draft moves the needle that much.
“Will Dragan Bender come over next season?”
Everything that I’ve been told is that he will come over. Reports are he has a manageable buyout, he’s unhappy with his inconsistent playing time, and his team, Maccabi Tel Aviv, has made some high-priced moves, not all of which have worked out, so they could use that buyout money, from a player who doesn’t currently make much of an impact and doesn’t want to be there, to help offset the cost of those moves. I’d be surprised if Bender is playing in Europe next season.
“Given Bryan Colangelo’s track record, how likely is it that Dario Saric is traded away?”
I mean, if you want to look at it like “he wants to make a splash, and the timeline has clearly changed, so there’s a chance Saric is traded”, I suppose it’s more likely now than it was with Hinkie here. But I don’t think Dario Saric, specifically, is any more likely to be traded than the other guys. Colangelo has a history with Europeans, from Andrea Bargnani to Jonas Valanciunas, and has shown patience in allowing them to come over and develop. Too much patience, in Bargnani’s case. I wouldn’t classify Colangelo as anti-Dario, if that’s the question.
“Does all this happen if Hinkie signs Ish Smith (or a similar PG) before the season or if Jahlil Okafor doesn’t make TMZ?”
I think pressure — from losing, from negative publicity, from the league — was undeniably a factor in this, something which I wrote about this past weekend. If the team pulls out wins in some of those close losses earlier in the season, finishes with 18 wins on the season, and Jahlil Okafor isn’t making headlines, and making the team look like it had lost control, I think there’s a very real chance this doesn’t happen. The Sixers, to some, looked like a rudderless organization in year 3 of Sam Hinkie’s tenure, and sprucing up that perception, I think, would have saved Hinkie’s job.
“Why does Orlando get 6 years to lose?”
35 wins was a solid season for Orlando, especially with some of the potential Aaron Gordon showed down the stretch. I still think there’s some very big moves Orlando is going to have to make, as I don’t think they have the upside in their young talent to really make this upward swing sustainable, but winning buys general managers time to figure things out. Sixers’ ownership gave off the impression they were different, but in the end, it’s still a fact of life in the NBA.
Derek Bodner covers the 76ers for Philadelphia magazine. Follow @DerekBodnerNBA on Twitter.