In a wide-ranging and fascinating interview with Sam Hinkie, Chris Ballard of SI.com explores what the former Philadelphia general manager has been up to since departing the Sixers earlier this year, and suggests that a return to the NBA could be in the cards for Hinkie in 2017. According to Ballard, Hinkie seemed “unsure” in October about whether or not he’d seek out another NBA job, but now appears more certain that he’ll eventually return to the league.
“I think the world probably assumes that I’m recharging and unplugging, and there’s a little of that,” Hinkie said. “This will get me in trouble if I say it, but I think I’m mostly sharpening the sword to come back.”
During his time in Philadelphia, Hinkie engaged in an unprecedented all-out rebuilding process, which resulted in just 47 total wins in three seasons for the Sixers. During that time, the team rid itself of bad contracts and added several promising prospects, including Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor, Dario Saric, and Joel Embiid. Of course, it wasn’t until after Hinkie’s departure that Embiid made his debut and the Sixers finally landed a No. 1 overall pick, snagging Ben Simmons.
As Ballard writes, Hinkie has been informally approached by “a couple” teams since the spring about potential opportunities, but his agreement with the Sixers still features a non-compete clause. The former 76ers GM won’t have an idea of what the market looks like for him until that non-compete expires at the end of the 2016/17 season.
Speaking to about a half-dozen NBA general managers and executives – including Rockets GM Daryl Morey, who worked with Hinkie in Houston – Ballard found that Hinkie is still held in high regard by many people around the league. Morey indicated that he’d hire his old assistant GM back in a similar role “in a second,” but admitted that Hinkie might not be interested in such a position. For his part, Hinkie will likely remain patient and wait for the right opportunity rather than rushing into a new job next summer, as he tells Ballard.
“I care much more about my life than the likelihood of being employed by next season,” Hinkie said. “The things you learn well compound over time. I’m going to do what I can to stay relevant and dangerous in regards to 2017. But I’m super-focused on what life will look like in 2027 and 2037 and how I can plant seeds now that bear fruit by then, if not before.”