It seems as though Sam Hinkie is almost done stripping down the team he took over after the 2012-13 NBA season. With Thaddeus Young officially traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves, the only player remaining on the Philadelphia 76ers roster, who was also on the roster when Hinkie took over, is — you guessed it — Jason Richardson. With Thad gone, it’s now official to say this is a Sixers team, with the exception of J-Rich, completely built by Hinkie, and it’s not a very good one, at least not yet.
The Thaddeus Young trade, like every other move Hinkie has made thus far, has been based on draft pick(s) and low-cost, upside-laden prospects with a ton of potential. The only difference being — like Jrue Holiday, who we’ll cover later, and contrary to Spencer Hawes and Evan Turner, who we’ll also cover — there was an actual market for Thad Young. It was long thought that the Sixers would acquire Anthony Bennett for Thad’s services, which, depending on what, or who else would have come over to Philly with Bennett, and what their future first round pick becomes, possibly could have been a better option. Instead, Hinkie pulled the trigger on a deal which brought them Alexey Shved, Luc Mbah a Moute (who we’ll also cover) and a conditional 1st round pick, which is top-10 protected in the 2015 NBA Draft and 2016 NBA Draft and unprotected in 2017 should it get to that point.
In other words, the 76ers are one step closer to their goal of acquiring all 60 picks in next summer’s draft. Furthermore, Hinkie made a move that still would have been on the table every day up to, and until, next February’s trade deadline. It was no secret that Minnesota coveted Thad Young, a brief report even went out several weeks ago that the ‘Wolves were willing to offer Kevin Love for him. Regardless of how true or not those reports were, the point is that they wanted Thad, that the deal Hinkie made would have always been an option, and that a lot more time could have been spent shopping Thad around. With all that said, I love Hinkie’s philosophy, but at some point the team needs to stop going down, and start going up. And at some point, the players who he’s stashed overseas (we’ll get to them as well) and his plethora of draft picks, have to start to materialize.
When Sam Hinkie was hired in 2013, one of the first things to publicly come out of his mouth was, “I start with an end in mind. In everything.”
That date in 2013 also made him the youngest Vice President of Basketball Operations in the history of the league. He is a purveyor of analytics — someone who uses advanced metrics over traditional statistics in his every evaluation. Somehow, he’s maintained a sort of anonymity in regards to keeping rumors under wraps, thus giving him the upper hand in all of his transactions, while working in a media crazed city — and league. He hardly talks to the press, and when he does, is open about how private he prefers to be. Among everything I know about Hinkie, the thing that most grabs my attention is the fact that he’s more concerned with the future than the present, a tactic that sits well for now, but even the game of chess reaches an endpoint. At some point, you have to try to win — right now. Not every move can be made based on the next one. That said, the moves Hinkie has made thus far have been for the better; i.e., if you consider every move thus far has been made for the future, and I’m of that opinion.
Let’s take a look at a few of them which have shaped this current squad.
The Royce White Favor
As everyone knows, Sam Hinkie was an Assistant General Manager to Darly Morey in Houston before coming to Philadelphia. Just about everyone around the league viewed his taking on Royce White’s $1.7 million contract as a favor to his former team. The Sixers had just a shade under $19 million in cap at the time and cut White not long after the deal. Hinkie’s reasoning for the trade was the acquisition of Furkan Aldemir, a player Hinkie liked at the time of the trade, who is still “stashed” overseas, and in May signed a 3-year extension with Galatasaray Istanbul, his Euroleague Club. Aldemir turned 23 years old on August 9, meaning unless he gets out of his current contract, he’ll be, at youngest, a 26 year old NBA rookie. The good news; this move had zero effect on the Sixers, future or present. The bad news; this move had zero effect on the Sixers, future or present.
Enabling the Acqusition of Eric Maynor
Essentially, Hinkie facilitated a deal between the Washington Wizards and Denver Nuggets at last year’s trade deadline, taking on Eric Maynor’s contract and two second round picks; one from the Wizards in the 2015 NBA Draft and one from Denver in the 2016 NBA Draft (which is actually the Pelicans second rounder from a previous deal) for nothing. In doing so, they did take on just over $4 million in cap space between last season and this season, which they may actually need to hit the salary cap minimum this season. I wish I were joking. The jury is still out on the draft picks however, which are obviously yet to be selected. As we know, most second round picks hardly sniff the NBA, but it only takes one (see Parsons, Chandler) to make a headache like Royce White or Eric Maynor worth the time.