76ers rebuilding without Hinkie

  • By DAN GELSTON
  • Friday, April 8, 2016 1:01am
  • Sports

PHILADELPHIA — Sam Hinkie quit on The Process.

The Philadelphia 76ers threw a pizza party.

No, the two events were not related, though it was a bit peculiar to find the team’s practice facility festooned with balloons as select season-ticket holders gorged on food a day after perhaps the most bizarre departure in 76ers history.

With Franklin, the blue dog mascot, waving from a window, the Sixers wound down practice with Drake’s “Energy” blaring through the court.

“I got enemies, got a lotta enemies / Got a lotta people tryna drain me of my energy.”

Might as well have been Hinkie’s theme song.

The Sixers are moving ahead in their painful rebuild without the general manager who methodically turned the organization into one of the worst in professional sports.

The new era comes a day after Hinkie informed the team via a 13-page manifesto littered with references to Abraham Lincoln and flightless birds that he was out.

Coach Brett Brown was again left holding the bag as Hinkie scrammed out of town.

“He obviously felt like this was not something he wanted to be a part of,” Brown said Thursday. “He didn’t want to be a part of the collaborative effort.”

Brown decided to stick out this elongated rebuild and was rewarded — rewarded? — earlier this season with a contract extension. Hinkie was hired by owner Josh Harris in 2013 to find a creative way to turn the Sixers into winners. Hinkie’s plan — gut the roster of any solid NBA talent, shred payroll and stockpile draft picks to build for the future — had the initial backing of ownership.

The 76ers went 19-63 on his watch in his first season and 18-64 last season.

Year 3 has been even worse even by those miserable standards.

The Sixers started 1-30 and Harris had been embarrassed enough. Hinkie’s power was weakened in December when the Sixers hired Jerry Colangelo to oversee basketball operations. Hinkie ran an analytics-minded front office and when the Sixers wanted to add more basketball people, he balked.

Hinkie was pushed and became more defiant, insisting he didn’t help and that his sour relationship with agents would improve once he started throwing cash at free agents — which the Sixers are finally poised to do this summer.

Hinkie did not share in Philadelphia’s vision of having him adjust or add to the power structure, so he quit.

Following Hinkie’s departure, the 76ers looked to the family tree for a replacement — Bryan Colangelo had long been mentioned as having a future role in the organization after stints in Phoenix and Toronto.

The Sixers are set to hire the former NBA executive of the year as their general manager, according to a person with knowledge of the decision. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because Colangelo’s hiring was not official.

Brown said after practice Thursday he learned Hinkie quit through the team’s media relations department.

Hinkie lasted less than three full seasons and left the Sixers with the worst record in the league at 10-68.

The Process, Part II is underway.

“It doesn’t mean things have been blown up,” Brown said. “We’re committed to the path that we said we were going to be on three years ago. No matter who was going to be in charge of the draft this season, next season, we’re jumping into the free-agent market.”

Harris and co-owner David Blitzer attended practice and did not speak to the media. Hinkie was also at the practice facility and met with some of the players. He did not talk to the media.

Hinkie made his statement in a farewell letter, obtained by ESPN, that blindsided management and caught Brown off guard.

“There has been much criticism of our approach,” he wrote. “There will be more. A competitive league like the NBA necessitates a zig while our competitors comfortably zag. We often chose not to defend ourselves against much of the criticism, largely in an effort to stay true to the ideal of having the longest view in the room.”

Hinkie doesn’t exactly leave behind a barren cupboard — Nerlens Noel, Joel Embiid, Jahlil Okafor and overseas prospect Dario Saric still have potential on the court or as trade bait, the Sixers have about $60 million in salary cap space, and they could have up to four first-round picks in the 2016 draft.

Even without Hinkie in place, Brown’s job is safe.

“I know he’s taking his hits all over the place,” Brown said. “But he hired me. I was his partner.”

Like any partnership, they squabbled.

The 2014 draft could define the organization for a generation.

With two top-10 picks, the Sixers selected Embiid and Saric. Embiid was picked at No. 3 and has yet to play because of foot injuries and there’s no guarantee he’ll become even a serviceable NBA player. Saric has been stuffed overseas and could play there for at least one more season.

Hinkie shaped a roster this season that failed to include a solid point guard or any veterans to help guide the young players. Okafor, the No. 3 pick of the 2015 draft, had his season marred by a series of off-court incidents and he served a two-game suspension for his role in a Boston street fight. Management refused to address Okafor’s behavior or punishment, leaving Brown as the lone spokesman.

Through the draft, the Colangelos, or free agents, Brown said the worst is behind the Sixers.

“I feel like patience as we’ve known it isn’t going to have to be required as much anymore,” he said.

More in Sports

JDHS junior Sean Oliver and senior Orion Dybdahl share all-tournament honors at the conclusion of this year’s 3-game Al Howard Shootout tournament in Soldotna. (Courtesy Photo / Robert Casperson)
JDHS boys finish 2-1 in Al Howard Shootout tournament

Next, they play two cross-town games.

JDHS girls and boys basketball team pose for a photo outside after traveling to Soldotna for a 3-game tournament. (Courtesy Photo / Tanya Nizich)
JDHS girls win 2, lose 1 in tournament play

Next up, is an away game against Service High School.

Thunder Mountain’s Thomas Baxter (30) prepares to shoot the ball as Kayhi’s Archie Dundas (22), Jared Rhoades (15), and Andrew Kleinschmidt-Guthrie (13) try to block him during Thunder Mountain’s 54-56 loss to Kayhi on Friday at Ketchikan High School. On Saturday, the Falcons won the rematch 60-58. (Christopher Mullen / Ketchikan Daily News)
TMHS boys bounce back against Kayhi

Another day, another 2-point game.

TMHS sophomore Kerra Baxter (22) dribbles while surveying the court during a loss to Wasilla. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)
TMHS loses two to Wasilla

Similar final scores, but two very different games.

Anna Dale, a senior and the Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé Crimson Bears Varsity hockey team’s assistant captain, goes above and beyond on and off the ice. Dale talked with the Empire about her love for the game and how hockey will continue to play a role in her future after high school. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire) Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)
Transcending Treadwell: Anna Dale hopes to play hockey at the next level and inspire others to get on the ice

“She’s somebody who takes some risks, keeps people together and goes to bat for the team.”

Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé Crimson Bears hockey team played against Houston High School’s Hawks Friday evening at Houston’s home, one of three weekend of away games for the team. (Courtesy / Judy Campbell)
Crimson Bears hockey takes home mixed results from away games

The team preps for upcoming weekend home tournament and #LivelikeMatthewC game

Kayhi’s Lindsay Byron (21) tries to block Juneau’s Skylar Tuckwood (13) as she attempts a layup Friday at Ketchikan High School. Juneau won 40 to 33. Photo by Christopher Mullen Ketchikan Daily News
JDHS girls net big conference wins in Ketchikan

Crimson Bears girls find two wins against Lady Kings.

Courtesy Photo / Robert Casperson 
JDHS junior Sean Oliver and senior Orion Dybdahl pose for a photo on Saturday after earning all-tournament honors at the O’Brady Invitational tournament in South Anchorage.
JDHS boys basketball takes 3rd place in O’Brady Invitational tournament

Crimson Bears beat Bartlett and and South Anchorage but fall to West Valley.

Sophomore Addison Wilson races toward the basket late in TMHS' comeback win. Wilson was one of four players on her team to score 9 points. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)
Thunder Mountain girls storm back for a Saturday night win

They play again at 4:30 p.m. Saturday.

Most Read