Sam Hinkie is a video game.
I'm not nearly as much of a gamer as I once was, but the game that still manages to occupy hours of my time is the NBA 2K series. For as long as I can remember, I've always had the same three-step plan to turn the Sixers into a champion.
Step one: Immediately sell anything that isn't bolted down for expiring contracts and draft picks, whatever you can get for them.
Step two: ??
Step three: Profit.
Now, I'll grant you, this plan ignores the optional step 4, which is "Sign Lebron" and works way more than it should reasonably work out (he really loves Philadelphia!), but that's not important.
The important part here is step one. A real life NBA general manager is doing just that, and to top it off, he is the general manager of your favorite basketball team.
That's what brings me to today's great moment in the Sixers season, my personal favorite day of this season, the trade deadline.
I didn't know what to expect heading into the trade deadline. For weeks, all we heard, or wanted to hear, were a bunch of lightly sourced rumors and hypotheticals. It consumed us all. According to unconfirmed reports, Jake Pavorsky spent three weeks in detention for reporting rumors during 5th period geography, even after he tried to demonstrate where Evan Turner would end up on a map. (He kept pointing to Europe and the teacher didn't get the joke.)
Previous Things That Happened
Previous Things That Happened
That said, all we had to base our expectations on was draft night, where, as you may recall, Hinkie first traded Jrue Holiday for two first round picks, then spent the rest of his evening trolling Philadelphia sportswriters who derisively called him "Silent Sam" by trading and re-trading 2nd round picks to the point that by the time he held a press conference at 12:30 AM, their heads were still spinning. Did he have more tricks up his sleeve?
Deadline day arrives. It's about 10 A.M, and I'm enjoying a delicious chocolate chip muffin and a nice cold glass of chocolate milk while waiting for a technician to show up to fix my phone line when...BOOM. Hinkie just traded expert finger gun marksman Spencer Hawes to Cleveland for two 2014 2nd rounders, giving him five in total. To make the salaries work, he also acquired Earl Clark, who he didn't even let fly to Philadelphia before he cut him loose, and little-used center Henry Sims, who ended up being a useful piece in the grand scheme of things. All of this for Hawes, whose contract expires this season.
Hinkie takes a couple hours, eats what I assume was a very efficient lunch, maybe takes an equally efficient bathroom break (after all, no long twos) and then decides to help out some friends in Washington and Denver by taking on Eric Maynor's contract as long as Washington sends him two more 2nd rounders (2015 and 2016). This trade is significant because if the Sixers miss the playoffs next year, they owe 2015 and 2016 second round picks to Boston to complete...(sigh)...the Arnett Moultrie trade. Hinkie's playing chess to make up for years of Doug Collins playing Candy Land.
This, for the record, is his third trade in eight months where he trades LITERALLY NOTHING for something of value. More on that later. After all, there's still two hours left before the deadline and Hinkie has only acquired four second round picks.
The deadline is coming. Everybody in Philadelphia is nervous. Are we really going to have to watch Evan Turner play basketball for two more months? He's been the center of every rumor for the last month and a half, with everything from Ben Gordon to a high lottery pick coming back for him. And then, IT HAPPENS.
Clippers traded Byron Mullens to 76ers. Per source— Brad Turner (@BA_Turner) February 20, 2014
Wait. I'm...I'm sorry, we did what?
Clippers will get 2nd round pick from Philly for Mullens.— Brad Turner (@BA_Turner) February 20, 2014
EVERYBODY PANIC. MAN YOUR BATTLE STATIONS. DOUG IS BACK. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.
Here's the beauty of Hinkie though. After what I admit was like 45 seconds of self-doubt, questioning everything I had once believed in about Hinkie and life, almost everybody came to the conclusion that, no, that must have been reported wrong, because there's just no way that Hinkie traded anything of value for Byron "C'mon Guys, Stop Calling Me BJ" Mullens, one of a select few among the worst basketball players in the league.
It was, of course, reported half wrong. Hinkie was sending a 2nd round pick to the Clippers, the same 2nd round pick that he used at various points to acquire Tony Wroten, Royce White, Furkan Aldemir, and earlier that day, acquired Eric Maynor and two second round picks. By the way, since that pick was protected 31-40 and the Sixers have the 32nd pick in this year's draft, all of those trade obligations have officially been extinguished. Sam Hinkie acquired all of that for absolutely nothing. Also, Mullens brought a 2018 2nd round pick along with him from Los Angeles to compensate for that terrible mustache.
And then, finally, at 3:32 P.M. Eastern Hinkie Time, the Woj Bomb we built those expensive bomb shelters in our parents' basements for finally arrived.
Indiana has traded Danny Granger to Philadelphia, league source tells Yahoo Sports.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) February 20, 2014
That's right. Danny Granger. GRANGER DANGER. A $14 million expiring contract. Coming to Philadelphia. Given Indiana's lack of tradeable assets, it didn't take very long to figure out what was headed to the Pacers to make them pretty much unbeatable.
Indiana has traded Danny Granger to the 76ers for Evan Turner and Lavoy Allen, league sources tell Yahoo.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) February 20, 2014
Just like that, the Evan Turner era in Philadelphia was over. (As was the less hated Lavoy Allen era. We'll always have that one series that made you financially solvent for life. Respect.)
The Turner trade was really the only move all season that made even the most fervent Hinkie backers question him a little. After all, after Granger was bought out days later, Hinkie had ultimately traded Turner and Allen for a late 2nd round pick in 2015. Was that really the best he could do? There had to have been a better deal, right?
I operate under the belief that there wasn't. Unlike many national writers, a lot of NBA executives actually watched the Sixers game film, especially before they traded for players. You had to look pretty hard to find anyone who watched a lot of Evan Turner that would call him a real impact piece for a title contender or even "a good basketball player." I don't think many people thought it would turn out to be the colossal disaster it did, but this is a much different league than the league of even five years ago, and teams are protecting assets like never before. Ask yourself if there was a scenario where as the GM of any team in the league, you would've traded a first round pick for Evan Turner and I think you have your answer if there was a better deal on the table.
Step one of the rebuilding plan was always sell anything that isn't bolted down for picks and expirings. Hinkie did just that. We can't dwell on the rumors and hypotheticals. That ship sailed to Indiana where it promptly sank and exploded, taking down 11 other ships in the area. We can only look forward to Hinkie making it rain with 2nd round draft picks by picking every available member of the All-Euroleague Team.
Sam Hinkie is a video game. And the game is just beginning.