The 76ers General Manager Sam Hinkie has officially stepped down from his post as General Manager. Hinkie had been somewhat of a beacon of hope for Sixers fans, it seemed as if there was finally a plan in place to make this once great franchise, great again. The 76ers had been mediocre from 2003 through 2011, upon the dismal and return of Allen Iverson, the confusion on whether or not Andre Igoudala is a star (he is not), and trying to find out what to do with several aging mid-level players. From 2011-2016, this 76ers team is 116-274, and Sam Hinkie has the very difficult job in 2013 of trying to fix this mess.
The Andrew Bynum Era
Unfortunately, Hinkie had the misfortune of starting off his tenure as General Manager after what I would like to call “The Andrew Bynum Era.” For those of you 76ers fans who decided to do themselves a favor and erase Andrew Bynum from their memory, I am happy for you, but let me jog your memory. In 2012 the 76ers traded for supposed A+ Center, Andrew Bynum, a massive press conference was set and the city rejoiced. This was before Nerlens, Embiid, and Okafor obviously, but signing Bynum was supposed to be the final piece of the puzzle, allowing the offense to flow through him. The starting lineup would’ve been:
PG Jrue Holiday
SG: Nick “Swaggy P” Young
SF: Thaddeus Young
PF: Lavoy Allen
C: Andrew Bynum
Primary Bench Players: Evan Turner, Spencer Hawes, Jason Richardson, Royal Ivey
Good, not great, very much capable of a low seed in the playoffs. Unfortunately, Andrew Bynum never played a single game for the 76ers, but managed to collect $12 million dollars. The following season, after Bynum’s departure and eventual downward spiral, Sam Hinkie was brought in as General Manager.
Together We Build – Trust the Process
During Sam Hinkie’s first season in 2013-2014 the 76ers had 24 different members of their roster. Rookie PG Michael Carter-Williams shined amongst this lack luster squad, being given the “Rookie of the Year” honors at the end of the season. Unfortunately there are a number of players on this roster who were essentially unrecognizable: James Nunnally, Adonis Thomas, Darius Johnson-Odom, and Dewayne Dedmon, just to name a few. Sam Hinkie had many moving parts and ideas, taking place for the future, despite the 2013-2014 76ers slowly panning out to be the worst team in the NBA. This season was also supposed to be Nerlens Noel’s Rookie Season, but he ended up sitting out due to an injury.
In Sam Hinkie’s first season with the Sixers he traded away: Jrue Holiday, Spencer Hawes, Lavoy Allen, and Evan Turner
In Sam Hinkie’s first season with the Sixers he traded for: Nerlens Noel, Tony Wroten, Henry Sims, Eric Maynor, Byron Mullens, Earl Clark, and Danny Granger. As well as several second round draft picks.
The 2013-2014 Draft: The 76ers drafted or were involved in drafting ten different players, most notably Joel Embiid and Dario Saric, arguably the two most significant pieces of the puzzle for the 76ers future, who still in 2016 have played a combined zero minutes and zero seconds of regular season NBA Basketball. The 76ers also acquired KJ McDaniels, Jerami Grant, and Jordan McRae.
Over the course of the 2014-2015 season, the 76ers had filtered in and out of their roster 28 different players, including Veterans Luc Mbah a Moutes, Ish Smith, Javelle McGee, and Jason Richardson. Hinkie did what Hinkie does, and traded away Thaddeus Young, KJ McDaniels, and 2013-2014 Rookie of the Year, Michael Carter-Williams in order to secure more draft picks. This season the 76ers went a pitiful 18-64, landing the 3rd Overall pick in the draft acquiring Jahlil Okafor.
The 76ers made an incredibly confusing and lopsided trade with the Sacramento Kings, in which the 76ers received Nik Stauskas (a second year SG taken 8th overall in 2014), Carl Landry, and Jason Thompson for essentially nothing.
This year the roster seemed to be coming together, Jahlil Okafor, despite several off the court incidents and what looks to be minor injury problems would have been a solid Rookie of the Year candidate if he had stayed healthy. Nerlens Noel has been shining, Ish Smith is playing well and other extra pieces are now beginning to pan out for the Sixers. It looks like the 76ers will end the current season with 10-12 wins, making this team either the third or fourth worst team in NBA history.
Sam Hinkie’s Demise
This past December, NBA Owners lobbied to have staff positions within the 76ers front office changed, which led to the hiring of the well respected former owner of the Suns, Jerry Colangelo, to a senior staff position. This move was essentially mandated from NBA commissioner Adam Silver. NBA Owners lobbied for the 76ers to get better, likely for two reasons; one being the fact that Sam Hinkie was vacuuming up young talent and the league saw where the 76ers were headed, and two being, the fact that the 76ers have set record lows for attendance records when they are on the road and have very little economic value outside of Philadelphia.
Unfortunately, Hinkie felt the need to step down after mishandling the Joel Anthony trade that took place at this year’s trade deadline, where they essentially dropped JaKarr Sampson for no reason and received no draft picks. He was embarrassed with his own handling of this deal, as was new Senior Staff member Jerry Colangelo. This led to the hiring of Jerry Colangelo’s son Bryan Colangelo.
Understanding the Process – In Hinkie We Trust
Was winning a priority over the last three years under Sam Hinkie? Absolutely not. This was well understood by anyone who followed this young team with an odd story. Under Sam Hinkie’s reign as GM, the 76ers were 47-195. This sounds awful, but the reality of the situation, is that this organization was not going to advance with mid-first round picks and trying to scrap together an old roster that can compete for an eight seed. This team needed to be bad, and at that they succeeded. I could fill this entire paragraph with hypotheticals that led to Hinkie’s resignation, anything from Joel Embiid not making it onto the court to the inability to attract free agents, but the impressive work that Sam Hinkie has done will not go unrecognized. We currently have proven assets and potentially great assets thanks to the moves Sam Hinkie has made. Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor, Nik Stauskas, Ish Smith, Joel Embiid, Dario Saric, and another top 5 pick on the way. The move to Bryan Colangelo as General Manager had to be made. The Colangelo name carries weight within NBA ownership circles, we have young pieces and assets, Colangelo is a guy who can attract big free agents and carry out deals, but Sam Hinkie fixed a broken team and put the 76ers in a position to compete in the future. Sam Hinkie took a team with no future and no plan and stripped it for parts and started over. Zero members of the 2012-2013 team which Sam Hinkie started off with are on the current Philadelphia 76ers. The Sixers are a young team with a bright future ahead of them, if Joel Embiid can stay healthy and play next season, this team will be relevant in the 2016-2017 playoff chase. Do not judge Sam Hinkie’s legacy by his record, judge Sam Hinkie’s legacy by the careers of Dario Saric, Nerlens Noel, Joel Embiid, Jahlil Okafor, and anyone who is drafted in the upcoming draft. Sam Hinkie left this team with tons of cap room, draft picks, and incredible trade options. I still trust the process.