Sam Hinkie

Atlantic Notes: Hinkie, Jerebko, Johnson

Stan Van Gundy, who holds a dual role with the Pistons as executive and coach, says if the Nets intend to hire separate people to fill their vacant GM and coaching slots they should begin with finding a GM, Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPNNewYork.com writes. “I don’t think you can hire — if you’re going to hire two people, you can’t hire the employee before the boss,” said Van Gundy. “That just doesn’t make any sense to me. And that’s immediately going to create tension, right there, [that] the guy that’s your boss, that you report to … didn’t hire you? I mean, we see it in college coaching all the time. It’s tenuous, anyway, but if you were there before and there’s a new AD [athletic director] coming in, good luck to you. The guy’s looking for the first sign [to fire you]. Whereas if the guy hires you, he’s got a little more tendency to give you the benefit of the doubt because it reflects upon him. So if you’re going to hire two, to me you’ve got to hire the GM first. He’s got to have say in who he has as a coach.

Here’s the latest from out of the Atlantic Division:

  • Sixers GM Sam Hinkie says that he views new team executive Jerry Colangelo as a co-worker who is on equal footing as himself and not necessarily as his boss, Mike Sielski of The Philadelphia Inquirer relays. When asked if he viewed Colangelo as a potential threat to his position, Hinkie said, “I’m a big believer in the meritocracy of ideas, and your idea had better stand up to scrutiny from all sides. You’d better know your opponents’ arguments better than they do if you want to truly understand what’s best. So I don’t mind the thought that there might be debate about any particular topic.
  • Despite seeing sporadic playing time early in the season, Raptors power forward James Johnson has been a model teammate and has continued to work hard to contribute on the defensive end, Ryan Wolstat of The National Post writes. Johnson is on an expiring contract.
  • Jonas Jerebko insists he has no regrets about re-signing with the Celtics this past offseason despite averaging only 13.7 minutes per game this season, A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com writes. “Like I’ve said before, I just want to stay ready when my opportunity comes,” Jerebko told Blakely. “You know with coach [Brad] Stevens that sooner or later, you’re going to get your chance. It’s just a matter of being ready for it and making the most of it. That’s what I try to do every chance I get to play.”

Eastern Rumors: Love, Smith, Valanciunas

The Cavaliers are not engaged in trade talks involving power forward Kevin Love, GM David Griffin said Monday during a radio interview, according to ESPN.com’s Brian Windhorst. Love’s production has dropped since point guard Kyrie Irving returned to the lineup last month following his recovery from a knee injury. But Griffin believes he won’t find a deal for Love that would improve their chances of winning the title, Windhorst adds. “You’d have to go a long way to convince me that we’re a better team winning in the Finals without a player like Kevin on our team,” Griffin said on ESPN 850 AM in Cleveland. “We’ve never once put together an offer involving Kevin, nor have we taken a call on an offer for Kevin.”

In other news around the Eastern Conference:

  • Sixers GM Sam Hinkie should have been fired long ago for the way he’s gone about rebuilding the team, Philadelphia Daily News columnist Dick Jerardi opines. Hinkie should have never drafted injured center Joel Embiid or acquired the rights to power forward Dario Saric, who is still in Europe, Jerardi explains. He also left coach Brett Brown without a competent point guard this season until Jerry Colangelo was added to the front office and Ish Smith was re-acquired from the Pelicans, Jerardi continues. All the first-round picks that Hinkie has stockpiled are just a marketing ploy, Jerardi adds. 
  • Smith’s impact on the Sixers shows up in advanced statistics, as Cody Taylor of Basketball Insiders demonstrates. In the first 14 games Smith has played with the Sixers this season, their offense has scored 98.5 points per 100 possessions, compared to a league-worst 91.8 points per 100 possessions prior to his arrival, Taylor points out. The defense has also shown improvement, allowing 102.9 points per 100 possessions, which is 10th in the league since December 26th, Taylor adds. “I think we’re growing up – knowing what are good shots and what are bad shots, knowing the defensive schemes, what Coach [Brown] what really wants for us,” Smith told Taylor. “Offensively, moving the ball [and] playing off of each other. I think just overall, we’re playing good basketball.”
  • Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas has shown improved passing skills this month, Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun reports. Valanciunas averaged 1.7 assists in the team’s first 10 games this month, compared to his 0.5 average last season. “Our key of success is moving the ball, so I just want to be part of it,” Valanciunas told Wolstat. “I don’t want to just be the guy who is holding the ball too much. I’m trying to make everybody happy.”

Atlantic Notes: Ainge, Colangelo, Calipari, Jackson

Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge talks weekly with Suns GM Ryan McDonough, as McDonough tells Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe, and it’s clear that the pair maintain a strong relationship from their days in the Celtics front office. Boston and Phoenix hooked up on three trades last season.

“We worked together for a number of years and those guys have become some of my best friends,” McDonough said to Washburn about the Celtics brass. “Sometimes the calls are trade-related, sometimes the calls are social. I have a great relationship with those guys. I appreciate everything that Danny, [owners] Steve [Pagliuca], and Wyc [Grousbeck] did for my career, and regardless where I am the Celtics will always be my second-favorite team.”

See more from the Atlantic Division:

  • It’s obvious that Sixers chairman of basketball operations Jerry Colangelo is doing all the major decision-making now instead of GM Sam Hinkie, writes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer, who wonders whether Hinkie will get credit should the team become successful in the near future.
  • A league source suggested to Fred Kerber of the New York Post that John Calipari will become a more appealing option to the Nets the longer they search for a GM and coach. The team isn’t seriously considering Calipari at this point, as Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck said Friday. Kerber also names team chairman Dmitry Razumov, board member Sergey Kushchenko, CEO Brett Yormark and Prokhorov’s holding company president Irina Pavlova as members of the team’s search committee. That adds further confusion to an existing set of conflicting reports about who’s conducting the search.
  • Kristaps Porzingis unsurprisingly gets an A-plus in the midseason grades that Marc Berman of the New York Post hands out for the Knicks, but team president Phil Jackson receives only a C-minus, even though his decision to draft Porzingis has worked out. A record around .500 won’t cut it, and some of the team’s signings, including the addition of Kevin Seraphin that coach Derek Fisher lobbied for, have been duds, Berman opines, justifying the low grade for Jackson.

Atlantic Notes: Hinkie, Faverani, Fisher

Sixers GM Sam Hinkie admits that he has made some mistakes during his tenure with the team, though he is proud of his coaching hires and some player acquisitions that he has made, Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer writes. “I think our record speaks kindly to all that,” Hinkie said. “But I think there are other things we could have handled differently.” One of those issues Hinkie wishes he’d handled differently was the team’s response to Jahlil Okafor‘s recent off the court incidents, Pompey notes. “I think it’s fair during a time when there’s a question about someone that is as important to us as Jahlil, maybe people want to hear from another voice [besides coach Brett Brown],” Hinkie said. “Brett and I have been communicating there and I often let him speak on behalf of the team, and he’s often happy to, he doesn’t mind it and I don’t mind it. Sometimes a different voice helps.

One of Hinkie’s player acquisitions, power forward Richaun Holmes, had a solid showing in last night’s loss to the Jazz, notching 18 points, three rebounds and adding this highlight reel dunk (video link). Here’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Former Celtics center Vitor Faverani has reached an agreement with the Spanish club UCAM Murcia, Emiliano Carchia of Sportando relays (Twitter link). The 27-year-old reached a two-year agreement to play for Maccabi Tel Aviv back in July but was let go due to knee issues. Faverani last appeared in a regular season NBA contest during the 2013/14 season, playing in 37 games for Boston and averaging 4.4 points and 3.5 rebounds.
  • Charley Rosen, who has long been Knicks president Phil Jackson’s confidant, noted that the triangle offense is flawed under coach Derek Fisher’s direction, Marc Berman of The New York Post writes. A source close to the Knicks informed Berman that there’s a growing sense among some players in the locker room that Fisher is viewed more as a “preacher’’ and “motivator’’ than an expert in-game tactician. “If you run the triangle, you have to make a total commitment to the triangle,’’ said Rosen. “It’s not like a part-time thing that you just use some of it. If that’s your offense, you got to commit to it. It doesn’t look like they’re really committed to it. They’re running it in a half-[expletive] way. It’s not creating the kind of shots it would normally create.’’

Sixers Notes: Okafor, Hinkie, Colangelo, D’Antoni

Jahlil Okafor‘s camp didn’t want him to end up with the Sixers before Philly drafted him in June, sources tell Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. GM Sam Hinkie wasn’t allowed to interview Kristaps Porzingis at his predraft workout in Las Vegas, Pompey also hears. An agent told the Inquirer scribe in October that he wouldn’t want his maximum-salary clientele signing in Philadelphia and would advise mid-tier clients to play for the Sixers only if the team offered to overpay them. It all points to Hinkie’s difficult dealing with agents, though the GM says to Pompey that new executive Jerry Colangelo is changing that.

“Yeah, he’s helped there, too,” Hinkie said. “I think he’s had lot of good advice and I had lots of questions there about ways in which we could do things better. And he’s helped on that front already.”

See more from Philly:

  • Colangelo implied that he doesn’t have as much power with the Sixers as some might assume, saying that this experience is different from his time with the Suns “because in the past, the buck always stopped with me,” notes Arizona Republic columnist Paula Boivin. Of course, Colangelo was in charge of the Suns as an owner, and he’s merely advising Sixers owner Josh Harris, so the comment isn’t necessarily about his role in Philly’s basketball operations.
  • Mike D’Antoni said he’s “happy as heck” to be back in coaching as the lead assistant for the Sixers, and referred to head coach Brett Brown as the top draw for him to come to Philly, observes Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic.
  • Nerlens Noel explained some of the reasons why he’s such a fan of Sixers trade acquisition Ish Smith, who also played with the team at the end of last season. Brian Seltzer of Sixers.com has the details. “I think it’s his experience,” Noel said. “Him being as athletic as he is at the point guard position, and being able to create. Just a willing passer. He makes things a lot easier for the people around him. He makes them better.”

Sixers Talk With Elton Brand, Shane Battier

The Sixers are talking to Elton Brand and Shane Battier in the hopes they can serve as role models for the team’s slew of younger players, sources tell TNT’s David Aldridge, who writes in his Morning Tip column for NBA.com. It’s unclear whether the idea is for them to serve in a playing, coaching or front office capacity. Battier retired as a player after the 2013/14 season, while Brand, who spent the past two seasons with the Hawks, cast doubt on the idea of playing again during an interview this past summer. Zach Lowe of ESPN.com identified Brand on Friday as someone to keep an eye on as the team looks for veterans to add to its roster.

New chairman of basketball operations Jerry Colangelo dismissed the idea that son Bryan Colangelo, the former Suns and Raptors GM, will join the Sixers front office, telling Aldridge that it’s mere speculation. Still, the team does plan to bring aboard Mike D’Antoni as an assistant coach, Aldridge writes.

Former commissioner David Stern played a role in bringing the Sixers together with Jerry Colangelo, a source tells Aldridge. The NBA was “irate” at the way the Sixers handled the reports of Jahlil Okafor‘s various offcourt incidents, according to Aldridge. GM Sam Hinkie treated the news with his trademark silence.

“I would say I was present when decisions were made, but there are some things we can do better,” Hinkie said. “We purposely laid low, and I purposely laid low, for a number of reasons. And I’ve always been very comfortable, and [coach] Brett [Brown]‘s been very comfortable, being out front for us when need be, because we trust each other, and we’re attached at the hip in a lot of ways. But sometimes, another voice helps.”

Brand, a David Falk client who spent four years with the Sixers between 2008 and 2012, averaged 2.7 points and 2.8 rebounds in 13.5 minutes per game for a 60-win Atlanta team last season. This past spring represented the first time the former No. 1 overall pick appeared in the conference finals. Battier, a client of Jim Tanner, went to the finals in all three of his years with the Heat, with whom he last played, and twice won the championship. He averaged 4.1 points in 20.1 minutes and shot 34.8% from 3-point range in his final season on an NBA roster.

Atlantic Notes: Raptors, Colangelo, Thornton

The Sixers serve as a case of what might have been for the Raptors had Knicks owner James Dolan not vetoed the trade proposal that would have sent Kyle Lowry from Toronto to New York two years ago, Sportsnet’s Michael Grange notes. Toronto planned to rebuild but instead wound up one of the Eastern Conference’s best teams, and coach Dwane Casey is grateful, as Grange relays.

“Not speaking about any specific team, but in general it’s got to be tough,” Casey said about a steady diet of losing. “You need to see some rewards to reinforce what you’re talking about, what you’re preaching, because sooner or later, if there’s no rewards at the end of the rainbow, guys kind of tune it out. It’s important that they see some rewards, any team, at any level.”
Still, it’s unclear if the Raptors are any closer to a title than the Sixers are, given the uncertainty of whether Toronto’s core is strong enough to compete at the highest level, Grange adds. See more from the Atlantic:
  • A pair of remarks from Sixers chairman of basketball operations Jerry Colangelo last week make it difficult to envision him contributing only in a part-time capacity, even as he’ll continue to live in Phoenix, observes John Gonzalez of CSNPhilly.com. Colangelo told Bickley & Marotta of Arizona Sports 98.7 that Adam Silver and Josh Harris called him “pleading for some help” (audio link) and said to Angelo Cataldi of SportsRadio 94 WIP in Philadelphia that he would never accept a situation in which unaccomplished executives could overrule him (audio link).
  • The Sixers would be unwise to disenfranchise GM Sam Hinkie and completely abandon his rebuilding program, considering how far they’ve come and the promise that lies ahead in the 2016 draft, opines Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun.
  • Celtics draftee Marcus Thornton won’t be with the Sydney Kings of Australia much longer, a source tells international journalist David Pick (Twitter link). Thornton, the point guard from William & Mary whom Boston took with the 45th overall pick this year, signed with Sydney in July after reportedly assuring the Celtics before the draft that he was willing to play overseas. Thornton is not to be confused with the veteran shooting guard who plays for the Rockets.

Sam Hinkie On Colangelo, Marshall, Free Agents

GM Sam Hinkie pledged to remain with the Sixers, quelling rumors that he’s looking to leave the organization following the arrival of Jerry Colangelo as chairman of basketball operations, as Hinkie said as part of an in-depth interview with Zach Lowe of ESPN.com. “Our owners made it very clear they want me leading us long-term,” Hinkie said. “Adding one more voice will make the conversation richer. Might it be challenging at times? I’m sure it will be. But making big decisions shouldn’t be easy — it shouldn’t be that you have an idea, and you get to execute it without anyone questioning it.” The entire interview is certainly worth a read, and below are some of the highlights:

  • The GM said the team was off in its prediction that Kendall Marshall would be ready to play on opening night, with the point guard finally set to make his season debut this evening, Lowe relays. “We predicted it wrong,” Hinkie said. “That’s my fault. I’ve made plenty of mistakes, and I’m sure I’ll make more.”
  • The Sixers believe Marshall can provide veteran leadership for younger players like Jahlil Okafor, as well as stabilize the point guard position, Lowe notes. “This has been hard,” Hinkie says. “We haven’t been proud of this kind of start. We had strong desires for a point guard who could help us play at a high tempo, and get our best players the ball in positions where they could be successful. We want someone to throw a post entry pass. We thought Kendall was that guy.
  • Discussing why he has eschewed signing free agents who would have cost more, but likely would have helped the team win more games in the short term, in favor of adding younger players making the minimum salary, Hinkie told Lowe, “We could have chosen safer options. Many in the world would have us choose safer options — keep this player, instead of taking a gamble on a player whose name you don’t know. But when that player becomes Robert Covington, people are excited. We’ve chosen that sort of thing very often.
  • Hinkie acknowledged to Lowe that the Sixers reached out to free agents Kawhi Leonard and Jimmy Butler this past summer, but the lack of an existing star player hamstrung those efforts. “The most challenging part is to go from zero stars to one,” Hinkie said. “After the Clippers got Blake Griffin, Chris Paul is a possibility. After the Rockets had James Harden, Dwight Howard is a possibility. After the Cavaliers have Kyrie Irving, LeBron coming back is a possibility.
  • The GM stands by the organization’s decision to select Joel Embiid and Dario Saric during the 2014 NBA draft, despite the knowledge that the duo would not be immediately available to contribute, Lowe notes. “That night showed tremendous courage on the part of our organization to have a longer view, and to do everything we could to get the best players,” Hinkie told the ESPN scribe. “Those were not easy decisions.”
  • Hinkie also maintains that the team selected point guard Elfrid Payton with every intention of keeping him, and that it wasn’t a move designed to pry assets away from the Magic, who were known to be high on Payton entering the draft, Lowe relays. “That’s such a high-stakes gamble that it strikes me as reckless,” said Hinkie. “I’m a lot of things, but I’m not reckless.

And-Ones: Sixers, Stephenson, Anderson

No one in the NBA expects Sixers GM Sam Hinkie will have the ability to overrule chairman of basketball operations Jerry Colangelo on the team’s personnel decisions going forward, writes Ken Berger of CBSSports.com. It was around the time of Jahlil Okafor‘s autumn offcourt incidents that Sixers owner Josh Harris and commissioner Adam Silver first spoke about what one source described to Berger as a “course correction” for the team. Harris asked Silver for advice, and the commissioner gave him a list of people, with Colangelo’s name on top, to consider for the new front office role the owner was considering, Berger explains. Silver reached out to Colangelo to measure his interest in joining the Sixers, introduced him to Harris, and let them work it out from there, league sources said to Berger. We passed along more earlier today on the Colangelo hiring, and we’ll share news from around the league here:

  • Clippers coach/executive Doc Rivers denies that he’s reached out to any teams about trading Lance Stephenson and Josh Smith, but Bleacher Report’s Ric Bucher (video link) hears the Clippers are anxious to move the two. Stephenson and Smith are frustrated with their roles, Bucher adds. “That’s silly talk. Nothing. No truth,” Rivers said, according to Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times, in response to an initial report that the Clippers had gauged the interest that other teams have in trading for them.
  • Virtually no trade market exists for Stephenson, as Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders writes in his NBA AM piece, and the Clippers would have to attach another player to him in any viable trade proposal, one league source said to Kyler. A feeling exists that the Clippers would be willing to take on a sizable contract via trade, so Stephenson’s $9MM salary could come in handy for matching purposes, but for now, the Clippers’ trade talks are exploratory in nature, Kyler hears.
  • The Pelicans‘ first preference would be to keep Ryan Anderson instead of trading him, but the power forward’s upcoming free agency may force their hand, Kyler adds in the same piece. New Orleans would think about trading Anderson for Markieff Morris, especially if Anderson signals he won’t re-sign with the Pelicans when his contract expires this summer, as Adrian Wojnarowski and Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports reported this week.

Atlantic Notes: Colangelo, Okafor, Lee, Ross

The Sixers decided to hire Jerry Colangelo because they felt GM Sam Hinkie mishandled negative publicity surrounding Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor in recent months, Bleacher Report’s Ric Bucher says in a video. Owners with minority stakes in the Sixers pressured primary owner Josh Harris to make the move, Bucher adds. It’s inaccurate to say that the hiring came about in part because of pressure from owners who complained to the league about the Sixers’ rebuilding and its negative financial ripple effects, league sources told Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer, who writes at the bottom of a larger piece. Still, commissioner Adam Silver was indeed involved in the move, Pompey adds. See more from the Atlantic Division:

  • The NBA continues to investigate the recent incidents involving Okafor and it hasn’t decided whether it will mete out punishment on top of the two-game suspension the Sixers issued last week, league officials told TMZ Sports. Colangelo has a strong relationship with agent Bill Duffy, who represents Okafor, as Bucher points out in his video. “Based on what we currently know, we support the 76ers’ approach in this matter,” an NBA spokesperson said to TMZ Sports. “The league office is continuing to investigate the events of that night.”
  • David Lee doesn’t regret the trade that brought him to the Celtics and ended his time with the Warriors, even as Golden State has embarked on a 23-0 start, as Diamond Leung of the Bay Area News Group relays. Lee’s representatives reportedly cooperated with the Warriors as they sought a new home for him this summer. “This is a business, and because of the salary cap and things like that, it was time for me to move on, and that’s what I did,” Lee said. “It couldn’t have ended any better.” 
  • Terrence Ross is much the same player he was a few weeks after the Rudy Gay trade two years ago, and that’s perhaps the glaring issue for the swingman who signed a three-year, $31MM extension with the Raptors last month, writes Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca. His game grew more in the immediate wake of the trade than it has since, and inconsistency has plagued him, Lewenberg asserts.

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