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Sixers GM Hinkie talks about search for coach, reaching out to fans

Aug 30, 2013, 8:44 AM EDT

Sam Hinkie AP

It’s not just Charles Barkley who is confused.

There are fans in Philadelphia who heard little out of the organization while 12 other NBA coaches were hired and wondered what was going on. They watched the team’s popular All-Star point guard get traded away to usher in another rebuilding effort. They know they’re in for a rough season.

To some there seemed to be a distance with new GM Sam Hinkie —particularly media members used to Doug Collins and who now had a tougher job. Certainly some fans and some media members didn’t like the choices and the secrecy. Hinkie talked about liking to keep his cards close to his vest in a Q&A with the Philadelphia Daily News.

I think our fans will find me to be plenty open when we get to know each other. Our coaching search took quite a while and that may have caused that. Every little edge you can get is important. There is some level of secrecy as teams try not to let on to what they’re doing. If we were to have had Nerlens Noel come in and work out before the draft, that would have caused a stir being that we had the 11th pick, and the kind of things that happened on draft night (trading Jrue Holiday to New Orleans for Noel) possibly couldn’t have been possible. So we chose not to let teams know who we are working out, and a lot of forward-thinking organizations do that with the comings and goings of potential players.

But man, that coaching search did drag out, right?

I would say things largely progressed as I would have anticipated. Finding the right guy was always the priority, and when we did in Brett Brown we moved forward. Our first interviews were in Las Vegas in mid-July when I went out there for the summer league, just after the Orlando Summer League. It was a solid week of interviews. Then there were a few more to follow and then some more. I was focused immensely on finding who was the best fit for what we were looking to do.

Hinkie talks about using analytics — we all tend to focus on that but in reality the situation is much more complex. Like in the book “Moneyball” (not the movie, which plays up the drama more), the goal of the team was to find value where other teams were not looking. To do that in the NBA means using traditional scouting, analytics and any other information you have. Hinkie talks about being a guy who wants to get as much info as he can before making a decision, and that’s a good thing.

Part of being a GM in today’s game is dealing with the media and communicating with the fans. Hinkie got hired and was thrust quickly into a draft and free agency (not to mention that coaching search) and so time for building the public relationship wasn’t there. He said he wants to be open… but not too open.

I can’t speak to what happened before I got here, but going forward I see coach Brown and I to be open about all the decisions we make – the trades and the acquisitions and how we see things unfolding and what parts we’re excited about. I don’t think we will ever be a team that talks about the very next thing we’re going to do. That is giving an advantage to the other 29 competing teams. We have to find the right balance there for the organization and keeping the fans informed.

Like every GM, it will ultimately come down to wins and losses. This in the end is a pretty bottom line business — if in three years you can see a foundation for the Sixers built around young players (like Noel and future draft picks) that can compete at the highest levels of the sport, pretty much all will be forgiven. But if the rebuilding plan falls apart for any number of reasons, fans will turn on Hinkie and so ultimately will ownership.

Hinkie knows all this. Win or lose, Hinkie wants to go about it his way. You can’t blame him for that.

  1. mcqphx - Aug 30, 2013 at 9:32 AM

    Paralysis by analysis

  2. kitibo - Aug 30, 2013 at 10:08 AM

    Charles is right on the money. Jingle does not understand his fan base. Sixers fans more so than the other three teams in the City will not show up if there is not a clear path to improvement. I have more faith in the coach than the GM. He me his mentor Daryl Morey have done squat with their so called Analytics

    • psubeerman21 - Aug 30, 2013 at 5:34 PM

      You know what, bro? I don’t give two s**ts if he “understands” the fan base. I want him to build a winning team. He didn’t walk in here and pretend this team was good enough and waste time with a draft deep in talent next year. He did what he had to do, and that was free up cap space and get more picks next year. That’s all you should be worried about, not his coaching search or if he connects with you emotionally. Who cares if he understands you? And BTW, I’m fairly sure his mentor just put together a powerhouse in Houston, so maybe that wasn’t the best example to use to further your point

    • av416 - Aug 30, 2013 at 6:59 PM

      After reading your response I come away with two facts: 1) you know nothing about basketball 2) your overly sensitive. Psubeerman has it down, you should care only about what your coach/gm can do to make your team a long term winner. You think Spurs fans have an issue with Pop being closed off or not being open enough? Secondly, if Hinkie does what Morey was able to do in Houston, Philly fans will be long rejoicing having hired Sam Hinkie. Howard, Harden, Lin, Asik in two offseasons is hardly ‘doing squat’.

  3. shaner329 - Aug 30, 2013 at 12:32 PM

    I was in the same boat as other fans about Jrue and the coaching search. Honestly though, I’m excited to see changes happening and am looking forward to Hinkie building the Sixers back up to a contender once again. We may have to suffer through some more terrible seasons, but I’m optimistic about the future, especially being that we are in the Eastern conference.

  4. sasquash20 - Aug 30, 2013 at 6:25 PM

    I actually like the coach. Comes from a winning franchise, behind a HOF coach.

  5. Eric Fay - Aug 31, 2013 at 4:15 AM

    Pop has the charisma of a flagpole

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