Hinkie's real (and only) mistake

Let's get this out of the way upfront: Sam Hinkie's trade deadline haul was perfectly adequate. He traded two flawed players with expiring contracts (Hawes and Turner) plus salary flotsam (Allen) for a boatload of second round picks. While much has been made of this topic already, it is worth noting that:

  • Hawes' strong start belied a steadily deteriorating performer, setting fans' expectations on a trade return unrealistically high. These are his monthly averages from November to February (PPG: 15.9 / 13.3 / 12.0 / 10.3; FG%: .512, .462, .424, .376; 3P%: .474, .404, .379, .356). He is also an atrocious defender, confirmed by both the eye test and the stats (the Sixers' already terrible defense gave up 5.4 more ppg with Hawes on the court). Good for the Cavs that he is playing well, but no team in an increasingly analytics-oriented NBA was going to give up a first round pick for him.
  • Likewise, Turner fails all kinds of tests for being someone worthy of a first round pick. He is a ball-stopping, inefficient shot forcer (he has never had a PER above 13 in any year in the NBA, with 15 being the league average), empirically gets blocked more than anyone else in the league (21% of his shots at the rim got blocked this year), and was set to have a cap hold for his Q.O. well above what any reasonable person would say he is worth. Moreover, Turner's mid-range focused game goes entirely against the winds of the modern NBA, which is to focus on 3 pointers and shots at the rim since these are the most efficient possessions. Finally, it is worth noting that Turner's reputation as a dominant rebounder for his position has long since ceased to be true, with his TRB % dropping from 12.2% in 2011-12 to 9.1% this year. If not for the fact that we wasted a #2 pick on him, no one would have expected Turner to merit a first round pick in trade. Remember that Derrick Williams, another failed #2 pick, was traded straight up for Mbah a Moute. Again, Hinkie got fair value here.

That said, Hinkie's overall performance this year was not above reproach. Indeed, there is one clear black mark on his record - letting Joel Anthony go to the Celtics earlier this year instead of to the Sixers.

Hear me out.

As we are often reminded, Doug Collins ingeniously traded our protected first round pick next year to Miami for the chance to draft Arnett Moultrie (who is averaging a scorching 5.0 points and 6.3 rebounds on 32% shooting... per 36 minutes!). Said first round pick was traded to Boston to dump Joel Anthony's cap-clogging contract, in exchange for the much cheaper and expiring contract of Toney Douglas.

In the history of the NBA, there has never been a team so zealously and blatantly constructed to provide cap space rentals to other teams than the Sixers. Yet Hinkie wasn't the one getting back our pick, it was Danny Ainge. Not getting that pick back causes all sorts of headaches for the Sixers and their fans, since it preserves the twisted and compelling logic to tank AGAIN next season. Because we will forgo the pick if we make the playoffs - even by squeaking in - a utilitarian like Hinkie could well conclude that an additional pick in the 15-17 range is worth another busted season.

The problem isn't that Hinkie would be wrong in this case, it is that the whole issue could have been made moot in the first place. That is the real shame of this trade season - that we didn't take full advantage of an epic, outright tank by maximizing our flexibility next year.

You never know how the Anthony trade really went down - did Hinkie even know about it? If so, did he overplay his hand? - so it is hard to judge him too harshly on it. But given we had far more to gain than anyone else as the Heat's trade partner, and that not closing that deal has major strategic consequences, at least a small bit of bloom has to be off Hinkie's rose.

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