Sam Hinkie

Examining The Sixers’ 2019 Draft

The Sixers traded up four spots for Matisse Thybulle but outside of the prospect, the team didn’t add much immediate help in this year’s draft.

To move up to No. 20, Philadelphia had to surrender No. 24 and No. 33, the latter of which became Carsen Edwards—a three-point maestro. Edwards will play for the Celtics next season and could have a role right away depending on what happens with Kyrie Irving and Terry Rozier.

The team sent the No. 42 pick to the Wizards in the Jonathon Simmons deal and dished the No. 34 pick to the Hawks for the No. 57 (later traded to the Pistons) and two future second-rounders. In total, the Sixers turned a late first-rounder and four second-rounders into Thybulle, Marial Shayok (No. 54 overall pick from Iowa State), a pair of future second-rounders and cash considerations.

Make no mistake, the draft wasn’t a trainwreck for Elton Brand, despite what Sixers’ Twitter may lead you to believe. Thybulle is a talented prospect. He’s a tremendous defender and he has the potential to be a premier wing in the league. While his ceiling is likely an ideal third-or-fourth best option, he’s the type of player that can elevate a team with established stars in place.

“When we saw him on the board, [and] a few other players in our box that we liked were gone, and he was our target,” Brand said (via Derek Bodner of The Athletic). “We had to move up to get him. Whatever it took. Dealing with whatever team. I had to get it done.”

Thybulle had long been rumored as a target for the Sixers. The wing didn’t work out for any teams leading up to the draft, signaling that he may have received a draft promise from a team.

“Philly showed interest early and we just trusted them, and decided that we were going to put our faith in them and kind of shut things down,” Thybulle said when asked about not having many workouts.

Many draft experts were able to connect the dots between the Washington prospect and the Sixers. The Celtics did the same thing, as Jonathan Givony of ESPN.com notes.

Just as former Sixers GM Sam Hinkie caught on to the Magic’s interest in Elfrid Payton back in 2014—Philly netted a first-round pick by simply implying they were also interested in the point guard and forcing Orlando to move up—the Celtics used wide-spread information against a rival team. Boston said they had interest in Thybulle and was able to bring in a second-rounder as a result.

Admittedly, Philadelphia’s use of second-round picks in this draft is puzzling. The No. 33 pick aside, there were seemingly players available who could have helped the team. Bruno Fernando (drafted at No. 34) stood out as someone whom the team could groom, with the franchise alternating minutes between the Maryland prospect and Jonah Bolden at the five on games where Joel Embiid sat out.

Philadelphia will have multiple second-round picks again next year with Atlanta’s 2020 selection coming in addition to a pick from either Brooklyn or New York (originally acquired from trading the 2015 No. 35 overall pick to the Knicks before the team made additional trades to complicate the projections) and one coming from Dallas (Nerlens Noel trade).

And-Ones: Hinkie, Mental Health Program, RFAs, Wear

Sam Hinkie, who is often credited for the current success of the Sixers, has reportedly landed a consultation role with the Denver Broncos of the National Football League, per Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic (subscription required). Hinkie served as the Sixers’ general manager from 2013 until 2016 when he stepped down from the role.

Hinkie is viewed as a pioneer for analytics use in the NBA and using data to build a team. The 40-year-old was at the helm for several poor seasons for Philadelphia but his strategy helped the organization stockpile several top picks, which led to a rejuvenation, culminating this season with a 52-30 regular season. Hinkie previously was the youngest vice president in NBA history when he landed the title with the Rockets in 2007.

In his role with the Broncos, Hinkie will be an analytics consultant that helps with the team’s strategy for years to come. Jhabvala examines all of the top Broncos personnel Hinkie met with and their expectations from his respected acumen.

Check out more news and notes from around the basketball world:

  • The National Basketball Players Association announced a new Mental Health and Wellness program on Friday. The program will be available to all NBPA members to assist with any mental health issues. Former NBA player Keyon Dooling, who has served as a mental health counselor since January, will oversee the program.“I am thrilled to be a part of this new program within the NBPA,” Dooling said in a statement. “I look forward to serving the needs of our players and to continue normalizing the conversation around mental health in the NBA.”
  • Lang Greene of Basketball Insiders looks at which upcoming restricted free agents will be impacted this summer due to the NBA’s salary cap situation. Rodney Hood, Marcus Smart, and Julius Randle are among the players who could be affected, in Greene’s view.
  • Former Kings player David Wear has signed with the Sydney Kings of the National Basketball League (via Sportando). Wear appeared in two games with the 2014/15 Kings team. He is the twin brother of Travis Wear, who played for the Lakers this season.

Sixers Notes: Ilyasova, Belinelli, Brown, Hinkie

The Sixers, who raised NBA tanking to a new level during their “Trust the Process” years, got an assist this season from another tanking team, notes Ramona Shelburne of ESPN. The additions of Ersan Ilyasova and Marco Belinelli, who were both bought out by the Hawks, gave Philadelphia massive production off the bench in Saturday’s playoff opener.

Ilyasova posted 17 points and 14 rebounds, while Belinelli scored 25 points and was 4 of 7 from 3-point range. Although he drew interest from the Bucks, Cavaliers, Warriors and Raptors after his buyout, Ilyasova said it was an easy decision to come to Philadelphia.

“I think it’s all about fitting in the right situation,” he said. “Me and Marco, the way this team plays, we fit in perfectly in the system. … “When you look at the locker room and see the guys we have, obviously when [Joel Embiid] gets back, the sky’s the limit.”

There’s more today from Philadelphia:

  • When it comes to trusting the process, no one had to do it more than coach Brett Brown, who amassed a historically bad won-loss record in his first few years on the bench, Shelburne adds in the same story. The former Spurs assistant, who was 55-253 heading into this season, said he never lost faith in what the organization was trying to accomplish. “For whatever reason, I have found peace with what we have been doing since I’ve had the job,” Brown said. “We have tried to stay steady throughout it all. And I hope I still do. I really mean that. You had to have a vision and a calling. But we want more. Ultimately, we’re trying to grow something that can produce a championship.”
  • Co-managing partner Josh Harris also focused on winning a title in a chat with Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Harris called it “painful” to rebuild for three and a half years, but added that the organization never wavered from its plan. “I’m greedy,” he said. “I want to win an NBA championship. “I’m not going to be satisfied until that happens.”
  • Former Sixers GM Sam Hinkie, credited as the architect of the tanking strategy, remains on good terms with the organization, according to Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today. “Sam is a smart guy,” Harris said. “He’s a great strategist, and he certainly positioned the team, as best he could, to achieve success through the rebuild process. He also brought in some good people who are still with us. We continue to have a good relationship with him. We’re glad he was a part of it.”

Eastern Rumors: Embiid, Stauskas, Tatum, Bulls

Sixers center Joel Embiid feels personal responsibility that former executive Sam Hinkie lost his job, as he expressed to NBA.com’s David Aldridge during a wide-ranging interview. Embiid believes Hinkie would still be running the Sixers if not for the foot injuries that kept Embiid out of action for two seasons after Hinkie drafted him. “He made sure he put everything in place so I could get healthy. And I got healthy and I got back on the court,” Embiid said. “And I feel like he basically kind of lost his job because of me, because I missed two years. So I feel like I owe him a lot.”

In other news around the Eastern Conference:

  • Shooting guard Nik Stauskas, who was included in the deal that sent Jahlil Okafor to the Nets, is eager for a fresh start with Brooklyn, Nets website writer Tom Dowd relays. Stauskas appeared in 80 games, including 27 starts, with the Sixers last season but only saw action in six games this season after the off-season signing of J.J. Redick. “I’m just happy with the new change of scenery,” Stauskas said. “I feel like I get a chance to press the reset button.”
  • Pistons coach and president of basketball operations Stan Van Gundy revealed that he rated Celtics forward Jayson Tatum as the top player in the draft but Van Gundy is still surprised by the rookie’s 3-point shooting. Tatum, who played one season at Duke, led the league coming into Monday’s action with his 52.3% success rate from long range. “I thought he was the best prospect in the draft,” Van Gundy said Sunday in his pregame press conference. “He’s got all the tools. Anbody who says they’re not surprised by (his) three-point shooting, based on what he did in college, is lying. If there’s somebody who says I knew he’d knock down 50 percent of his threes even though he made 32 percent of them from the college line, they’re lying.”
  • Center Robin Lopez, power forward Nikola Mirotic and shooting guard Justin Holiday are three Bulls players that Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times views as trade bait. All three are rotation players whose contracts expire after next season, though there’s a team option on the final year of Mirotic’s deal, worth $12.5MM.

Sixers Notes: Embiid, Simmons, Hinkie

While Joel Embiid has attracted much of the attention following a career night on Wednesday, it could be Sixers forward Ben Simmons who ends up changing the NBA, Mike Sielski of The Inquirer writes.

The scribe writes that the 2016 first-overall pick is coasting to the Rookie of the Year Award with averages of 17.9 points, 9.2 rebounds and 7.7 assists per game. At the same time, the Sixers rookie is as marketable off the court as he is versatile on it.

Beyond all that, however, Sielski writes that Simmons’ openness about how pointless and unnecessary he feels the one-and-done rule preventing 18-year-olds from entering the NBA Draft is could add to his lasting impact on the league itself.

There’s more from the Sixers tonight:

  • The Process worked, Victor Mather of the New York Times writes. Mather breaks down the years-long, Sam Hinkie-led roster rebuild for the uninitiated.
  • Excitement around Joel Embiid grew ever so slightly this week as a stat-filling career best provided a glimpse into what could possibly be the Sixers’ future. That’s conditional, Sam Amick of USA Today writes, on if the big man can consistently stay on the court.
  • There have been no shortage of takes that LeBron James would be wise to join the Sixers via free agency next summer. Bryan Kalbrosky of HoopsHype writes that Philly could punish the Warriors in the paint with James on board.

Latest On Celtics-Sixers Deal

Saturday’s blockbuster deal that will allow the Sixers to draft Markelle Fultz validates “the process” that former GM Sam Hinkie brought to Philadelphia, writes Tim Cato of SB Nation. The Sixers were able to get the No. 1 pick from Boston in exchange for their own selection at No. 3 and the Lakers’ first-rounder next year, which will be conveyed only if it falls between No. 2 and No. 5, or the Kings’ first-rounder the following year. Hinkie’s philosophy of getting high draft picks and collecting assets gave Philadelphia the ammunition to make the deal, Cato notes. The Sixers now have a promising core of Fultz, Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons to build their future around.

There’s a lot more this morning as writers weigh in on the trade:

  • The Sixers held a private workout with Fultz Saturday night before agreeing to the deal, and the Celtics weren’t notified that the trade was done before the news became public, tweets Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe. He notes that the Celtics’ already crowded backcourt factored into their decision to pass on Fultz (Twitter link). Potential Boston draftees Josh Jackson and Lonzo Ball both turned down workouts with the team, so the Celtics haven’t seen either player in person (Twitter link). They watched Jayson Tatum during a session in Los Angeles.
  • The trade happened five days before the draft because the Sixers and Celtics are both hoping to make other deals, according to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com (Twitter link).
  • Fultz, who grew up in Maryland, told Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer that he likes the idea of playing relatively close to home and being with a rising team like the Sixers. Sources told Pompey that Fultz was disappointed when Philadelphia failed to land the top pick at the lottery. “They have a young team, and I think the upside of it would be crazy,” Fultz said. “I’m close to home. So a lot of my family can come out and just show love, and this city has great fans.”
  • The Celtics could have seven first-rounders over the next three drafts, tweets ESPN.com’s Chris Forsberg, who details the picks.
  • On his website, Derek Bodner examines how the Sixers acquired the assets they used to land Fultz.

Atlantic Draft Notes: Johnson, Monk, Workouts

The Sixers don’t have a definite long-term answer at point guard, but that doesn’t mean they will necessarily address the position in the first round of this year’s draft, Jonathan Givony writes in a mock draft for The Vertical.

The team is expected to field offers for the No. 3 overall pick and if it decides to keep the selection, it’ll be hard to predict who the selection will be. Givony adds that the team is high on Kentucky guard Malik Monk, but also suggests that Kansas’ Josh Johnson could be the pick due to his upside.

Here’s more on the upcoming draft out of the Atlantic Division:

Southeast Notes: Magic, Green, Millsap, Hornets

If the Magic can’t land one of the candidates they want for team president, they will try to get a big name to fill the GM role, tweets Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders. Interim GM Matt Lloyd remains a candidate to keep his job either way, but would probably be more secure if Orlando can get a high-profile president. The Magic are reportedly interested in Cavaliers GM David Griffin, whose contract expires at the end of the season. Former Sixers GM Sam Hinkie probably won’t be a candidate, as a source told Kyler that Hinkie is looking for an “ideal situation” and isn’t ready to return to the NBA. (Twitter link).

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • The Magic won’t try to keep free agent forward Jeff Green, writes Kevin P. Smith of Real GM in his offseason preview. Green spent a year in Orlando after signing with the team last July. He averaged 9.2 points and 3.1 rebounds in 69 games, mostly as a reserve. Smith thinks there’s a better chance that Orlando could try to keep fellow free agent Jodie Meeks if he agrees to an affordable price. In the draft, the Magic may take advantage of a field rich in point guards to find a replacement for Elfrid Payton.
  • Re-signing free agent forward Paul Millsap will be an offseason priority for the Hawks, tweets Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal Constitution. The 31-year-old has been with Atlanta for the past four seasons, making the All-Star team in each one. He’s coming off a career-best scoring year at 18.1 points per game, along with 7.7 rebounds and a career-high 3.7 assists. “We are going to make every effort imaginable to keep him,” said Hawks owner Tony Ressler.
  • The Hornets face a tough offseason with no available cap room and probably the 11th pick in the draft, writes Lang Greene of Basketball Insiders. Charlotte’s best option to improve is through trades, with Greene mentioning Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Marvin Williams and Miles Plumlee as options because they all have deals that average less than $15MM annually. The Hornets also have a $1.7MM exception from the Troy Daniels deal that expires in mid-July.

Kings Interested In Hiring Sam Hinkie?

11:57pm: According to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical, Kings owner Vivek Ranadive is indeed interesting in hiring Hinkie, despite claims to the contrary. Per Wojnarowski, Ranadive seeks “a front-office executive to usurp Vlade Divac’s authority and turn the franchise’s general manager into a “figurehead.” 

While the Kings have discussed retaining Divac in a player-personnel role, the “overall management of basketball operations,” would be transferred to someone else. The DeMarcus Cousins trade raised “significant questions inside and outside the organization,” Wojnarowski writes. Despite this, the Kings are hesitant to pair coach Dave Joerger with a GM that didn’t hire him; a situation reminiscent of Pete D’Alessandro‘s ill-fated pairing with Michael Malone.

8:29pm: The Kings have issued a statement dismissing their reported interest in Hinkie, as Sean Cunningham of ABC10 relays (via Twitter): “The Kings are not hiring Sam Hinkie and have no plans to bring anyone in above Vlade.”

While that statement sounds definitive, it’s worth noting that this is the same organization that insisted all year long that DeMarcus Cousins wouldn’t be traded, right up until he was traded.

7:08pm: The Kings have received permission from the Sixers to speak to Sam Hinkie about a front office role, Marc Stein and Zach Lowe of ESPN.com report (Twitter links). Any team looking to speak with Hinkie needs to gain permission since the executive agreed to such terms as part of his non-compete agreement with Philadelphia.

Sacramento has been quietly looking for an executive to put ahead of Vlade Divac in the organization’s hierarchy, Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical reports (Twitter link). Wojnarowski tweets that the team’s minority owners have been pressuring Vivek Ranadive to make the front office “more professional.”

Wojnarowski adds that Ranadive has spoken with Hinkie. However, Hinkie may not be interested in the gig. Hinkie has been away from the NBA since parting with the Sixers.

Sam Hinkie Mulling Return To NBA In 2017

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.”