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76ers replace risk-taking front office with risk-taking front office

Jul 23, 2013, 8:45 AM EST

Sam Hinkie

Confession: I liked the Andrew Bynum trade for the 76ers.

They were a middling team capable of making the playoffs but without the proven ability to win a series unless the opponent’s top player was injured. Their roster had limited flexibility, and two starters, Elton Brand and Andre Iguodala, were aging.

The 76ers didn’t necessarily need to make a high-risk, high-reward move, but that was certainly a defensible plan, and that’s what they did. Obviously, it didn’t work, and the previous front office, including President of Basketball Operations Rod Thorn, was pushed out.

Thorn, in an interview with David Aldridge of NBA.com (emphasis mine):

Me: So, what went wrong in Philly?

RT: We went for the stars when we went after Bynum. And it didn’t work out. And we gave up a ton of assets. Not only players, but we lost Iguodala, who was a terrific player. We lost (Nic) Vucevic, who was the second-best rebounder in the NBA. We lost (Maurice) Harkless, who has a chance to be a very good player, and we lost a future first, probably. Not for sure. But (Orlando) has the right for three years, if the first is not in the Lottery, they have the right to take it for three years. Now, chances are, it won’t be in the Lottery, and then we’ll have to give them two seconds. But we had accumulated assets. We made a major move, and it didn’t work out. Bynum never played a minute for us. And now he signs with Cleveland, and we gave up four major assets. That’s tough to overcome. And obviously the ownership was upset about the way the season went for us, and they got other people. It’s (not) a personal thing. They treated me great. I don’t have any problem with them at all. They wanted me to stay in an advisory position. But whether it’s pride or whether it’s ego or whatever, I just don’t like the way it ended. I’ve been in the league 50 years. I’ve done some pretty good things; some other things, not so good. But I’ve done some pretty good things. And I’d like to end it up on the right note. And that’s what it is for me more than anything…knock on wood, I’m relatively healthy, and I think I can help them in some ways. I’m looking forward to it.

In that same article, Aldridge also spoke with new 76ers general manager Sam Hinkie – an extremely revelatory look into Hinkie’s thinking, considering how little he’d shared with the media prior – and this quote stood out. Hinkie, via Aldridge: 

“From the first time I met the owners, they were very clear about where they wanted, and the kind of organization they wanted to build, and the kind of team they’d be proud of, and the kind of team they wouldn’t,” Hinkie said. “I’ve only thought about getting to there. It’s just a league that doesn’t reward treading water. And so sometimes you have to take some risks, and sometimes some risks are smarter to take for some teams, and less smart for other teams.”

This seems hypocritical of the 76ers owners, but it’s not. They trust Hinkie, not Thorn.

And that makes sense.

I liked the Bynum trade. I loved the Jrue Holiday trade. Nerlens Noel, if healthy, was by far the best prospect in the draft. In the meantime, his injury will help the 76ers secure a top 2014 pick, and the Pelican’s first rounder could be high, too.

That’s a great risk on Hinkie’s part – as long as his bosses trust him.

  1. dezglobal - Jul 23, 2013 at 9:32 AM

    There are bright days ahead for this ball club.

  2. skinsfanwill - Jul 23, 2013 at 10:01 AM

    Cleveland will somehow end up with the first overall pick, so tanking still won’t help.

    • somekat - Jul 23, 2013 at 12:38 PM

      If Bynum actually plays, they’ll make the playoffs, so it wont be possible

  3. barkley4life - Jul 23, 2013 at 10:23 AM

    If Hinkie is not afraid to stockpile talent regardless of position this strategy will work out I believe. With the picks and cap space they are acquiring in the next few years the front office has no ties to past players etc and can do a true rebuild. I am not concerned about Noels knee than I am more about his ability to put on weight etc. If he only turns into a Tyson Chandler type player that would be a huge plus because active skilled 7ftrs in todays game are rare. If I were the Sixers I would sit Noel the year and let him work on his strength and putting weight on. Blake Griffin sat his first year and it did not effect his growth.

    Hinkie is taking heed of the new NBA landscape. You can have talent but with no cap space you can not grow your team and find the pieces to build a championship. Without talent your not going to attract true talent through free agency outside of cast offs looking to get paid.

    If they hit on only 3 of 6 picks within the next 3-4 years they have a chance to be special in the East. Model after Oklahoma City and just stay away from adding a Kendrick Perkins type of contract.

    • somekat - Jul 23, 2013 at 12:37 PM

      Noel will not be like Chandler. Chandler is a big, strong guy, but he doesn’t half half the athletic ability that Noel has. The only thing they have in common is height, and shot blocking ability

      That being said, I love the direction of this team. Mainly because they have one. will the next 2-3 years be rough? probably, but this could all come together next year. They’ll be able to have enough space for 2 max FA, and if they get the top pick, and a good pick from the Pelicans, this could be the “it” team 12 months from now. But if that doesn’t happen, they will still have a heck of a core of young talent, with a boatload of cap space since they are all on rookie deals

      I don’t think he’s taking much risk yet though. When you look at it, the Holiday trade was a no-brainer. Keeping him just would of kept them around the 8-10 pick every year, which would of kept them in that area because of lack of superstar talent coming in. He’s bottoming out, which is what the sixers should of done 4 years ago when it was clear Iggy would never develop to a superstar

      • barkley4life - Jul 24, 2013 at 9:27 AM

        Chandler was 7-1 225 coming out of High School. Your forgetting the past for the present. All the same attributes coming out of High School. Trust me comparison is not far fetched.

  4. rhettbogan - Jul 23, 2013 at 10:27 AM

    @ skinsfanwill, and just how the hell do you KNOW that?

  5. ryanrockzzz - Jul 23, 2013 at 1:34 PM

    I am glad the Sixers cleaned house and started fresh this year. Doug Collins has his hands way to much into personel during this time with the Sixers. Obviously this did not include the Bynum move (that appeared to be Thorn/ownership wanting to sell tickets) but players like Nick Young, Dorrell Wright and Kwame Brown were all awful additions that Collins wanted. Having a GM put this team in a new direction may noth change anything in the long run, but that team that was assembled last year wouldn’t have won anything, even WITH Bynum playing.

    Also, one thing that isn’t mentioned much is how bad the Sixers ownership was prior to this new group getting the team. For years they were just Ed Snider’s red headed stepchild. He only did what he had to, and the Sixers were never aggresive in going after talent such as teams like the Lakers, Mavs, or even Celtics were. Now that this new ownership group appears to care, that’s a huge step forward for Sixers fans. It may take a few years, but I think this team on the right track to something other then basketball purgatory, which was just fine for those executives with the Sixers in years prior.

  6. tcclark - Jul 23, 2013 at 6:42 PM

    I thought Rod Thorn was planning on retiring after last year anyway. It’s not like he was fired or anything. The had been talking about him retiring even before the Bynum trade. Last year wasn’t Thorn’s fault. He made a good deal. Getting another risk taker in Sam Hinkie is perfect. They didn’t hire Hinkie because they didn’t like Thorn. Thorn was gone regardless…. Now Tony DiLeo is a different story

    • cflip376 - Jul 23, 2013 at 6:54 PM

      Feel bad for DiLeo, he was hired after the deals and didn’t even get a chance to do anything and I think alot people were blaming him for it.

      • tcclark - Jul 23, 2013 at 8:47 PM

        Yeah. I feel bad for him too. He actually made a good move by signing Holiday to that contract. It is a very affordable contract as was kind of at a discount considering he wanted a max deal. He just had to go though. He was hired to make Doug happy and this is a team that is going in a new direction. It would have been tough for DiLeo to make the kind of moves that Hinkie is going to make. He has so much invested in this team. He’s scouted them, he’s signed them, he’s even coached them. I don’t think he would have been able to trade Jrue. He probably had a vision for this team that included him. Hinkie is coming in with the mind set of blowing everything up. Tony wouldn’t have been able to do that.

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