Just how much credit does Sam Hinkie deserve for the recent developments with the 76ers?
I won’t hide. I wasn’t a fan of Hinkie’s long-term plan. But after witnessing a year of Bryan Colangelo’s tenure, I will concede that Hinkie was correct for wanting to build around young stars and also had a solid eye for ability. He found players like Robert Covington, T.J. McConnell and Richaun Holmes, whom Brett Brown and his coaching staff developed into serviceable NBA players. Jahlil Okafor may have been his biggest personnel mistake, but even Pat Gillick signed Adam Eaton. It happens.
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While Hinkie clearly knew what he was doing, his methods ultimately doomed him, and it’s why I find it hard to believe he would’ve been willing to trade a future high draft pick like Colangelo did to Boston for No. 1 in this year’s draft. Colangelo made a great move and one the Sixers needed to do to ensure they get not only the best talent, but the best fit for the team.
Hinkie’s problems were patience and communication. He sported too much of the former and lacked the latter.
The Ringer’s John Gonzalez shared a story about how Hinkie showed no urgency to shovel the snow in his Bryn Mawr driveway after a massive snow storm in 2014 because spring would arrive at some point. That mindset perfectly described who Hinkie was. Even though the 76ers suffered multiple years of constant losing, it appeared his belief was Joel Embiid would eventually be healthy enough to play [albeit, to this point it still hasn’t been that much] and more high draft picks would produce other potential superstars in the future.
Remember, Steph Curry was picked seventh overall several years ago, while Klay Thompson went No. 11 in his draft and Draymond Green was drafted in the second round. You don’t need a top three pick to rebuild, but it always came off that the Sixers were hoping for that type of draw in the lottery.
I credit the man for being that patient in life. Admittedly, I’m not. I’ll be in line in the super market with two of five registers open, wondering why I can’t use the others that are closed. I’ll then search for someone to take one of the vacant registers so my shopping experience can go five to ten minutes faster than it would if I waited without a problem.
I may have a patience problem, but Hinkie’s tolerance for waiting things out ultimately led to him getting pushed out, basically forcing him to resign. I speculate his reported relationship with agents probably didn’t help his case either.
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Believe it or not, Hinkie and former Eagles head coach Chip Kelly are quite similar. Even though Kelly experienced immediate success before his demise, both Hinkie and Kelly were polarizing and completely set in their ways.
Maybe if they weren’t so stubborn and could adjust, they’d both still be here. Maybe Hinkie would’ve been able to witness first-hand the fruits of his labor, assuming they can stay healthy. But instead of the former Sixers’ general manager being rewarded, it will be Colangelo bearing the fruits. The cult of Hinkie supporters will always give him praise, but the mere question and debate as to whether Hinkie would do this move, or do that, is what makes him such a curious case.
His “process” may work out beautifully, but he ultimately failed as an executive with the Sixers.
It’s simple. He’s not here.
Before I forget…
-Speaking of general managers, Matt Klentak continues to make questionable remarks. Just last week Klentak defended struggling right fielder Michael Saunders by saying if the veteran gets hot, he can carry the Phillies for a month. Less than seven days later, Saunders is off the roster. Maybe someone from above made that move. Maybe [but unlikely] Klentak changed his mind. Either way, the way the Phillies have been managed this year is alarming. It’s time to hear from John Middleton and Andy MacPhail again. There needs to be a message of reassurance from a stronger, more experienced voice. Klentak isn’t that at the current time.
-What in the world is going on with Pat Neshek? The Phillies 36-year-old reliever may have a 0.64 ERA, suggesting he’ll be a great trade chip come the deadline. I’m starting to doubt that. Neshek threw 28 pitches Sunday, the Phils had Monday off, the righty tossed 11 pitches Tuesday and then wasn’t available Wednesday in one of the worse losses of the season, 7-6 in 10 innings to St. Louis, a game the Phillies gave up a 5-0 lead. Pete Mackanin claimed Neshek told him he was sore. Neshek denied ever saying that. Makes you wonder who to believe. Makes you wonder if Neshek and Mackanin are on the same page. Makes you wonder if Bob McClure is the go between and sharing different messages. Regardless, it’s a mess. If Neshek can’t pitch two days in a row after throwing 11 pitches one night, just how valuable is he? Not as much as he should be.
-Odubel Herrera missing Juan Samuel’s stop sign in the Phils loss Wednesday was another “Odubel Moment.” Those types of mistakes will be his downfall if the centerfielder has one in Philadelphia. There’s no question of his talent. He just doesn’t play smart.
-For as bad as Philadelphia sports teams have been recently, none are as dysfunctional as the New York Knicks. Phil Jackson’s latest charade of publicly admitting he’s taking phone calls on Kristaps Porzingis, with missing an exit meeting as a reason why, is mind-boggling. It’s baffling not only because Porzingis is someone you should want to build around and please no matter what, but being as honest about the situation as he was decreases Porzingis’ value. So remember, when you’re frustrated by Philadelphia sports, at least you don’t have to root for the Knicks.