The page is turning to a new era of Sixers basketball, spearheaded by President of Basketball operations Bryan Colangelo. Some of the old regime's biggest allies are still talking about Sam Hinkie, however, taking up arms for the departed executive.
On the latest edition of the Vertical Podcast with Adrian Wojnarowski, Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey spent a decent chunk of time talking with the Yahoo source-machine about his friend and former colleague. The jumping off point was a discussion about the nature of Hinkie's exit in Philly:
WOJ: Sam Hinkie had been your assistant GM, he went to Philadelphia, I guess the word isn't fired, he was overtaken I guess here in the last several months in the organization, certainly marginalized and then he resigned.
MOREY: Effectively fired, I guess you could say.
Not exactly breaking news if you use common sense, but notable given the source. Morey revealed that he was just fine taking shrapnel for Hinkie as a result of his friend's maneuvering the last few years:
WOJ: You took hits over the last couple years, you were judged by what he was doing in Philadelphia.
MOREY: Well I wanted to take hits for him. The reality is when he took over Philly, he took the approach that was best for the franchise at that time in his judgment, which was that the best way for them to get to be a title contender, given the roster where they were at, was to take a pretty strong dip into the top five of the draft... that has more of a history of having success in terms of building a championship contender.
Unfortunately, because of that they took themselves out of free agency. That's going to make a lot of agents upset. They took themselves out of trades that were upgrading the franchise, that's going to upset people who feel like they're just sort of taking advantage of the rules of the league.
He's very good at what he does, because of the path they took I think it ended up being the case where he ended up upsetting a lot of folks, agents, important people around the league, unfortunately I think that's what got him. But I wish him all the success and I'm sure he'll land on his feet.
When pressed on any advice he would have for Hinkie on how he could have handled his tenure differently, Morey thought a big point of criticism -- talking to the media -- was overblown, and that the Sixers are set up fabulously for the future:
WOJ: Was there anything when you look back on it, or even you two have talked about since then, where you said, 'Sam I wish you had done more of this or that' and maybe he'd still be in there?
MOREY: I'm not sure I would have changed because of what he had to do, but in terms of advice... Obviously giving the local media a little more time, but I just think that was maybe overplayed. I wasn't in the market, as far as I know he did interact with local media.
By being a little bit behind the scenes I think that might have hurt him, but I don't know, I think he could've ended up in the same place. I also thought maybe they shouldn't take themselves completely out of free agency, maybe sign some players, but I got the logic. He was trying to ensure that they got what they got this year which was the top pick in the draft.
Philly fans forever are going to be very happy. They've got very capable management now with Bryan Colangelo, and they have one of the best starting points for any franchise I've ever seen in terms of the number of picks and the foundation they have in place. Philly's going to be benefitting for years to come.
To close the segment, both Wojnarowski and Morey hinted at higher powers having more to do with his exit in Philly than disdain from local fans:
WOJ: He had more support in Philadelphia than I thought he would two years into this thing. Philadelphia as a market actually had the stomach, I think Sam's actually still fairly popular there with fans, it ended up being that the league, the NBA, the rest of the owners, the league office, they did not have the stomach for what was going on there. Probably change came more from outside in than inside out, or the movement for change.
MOREY: There's a reason Commissioner Silver wanted to pass draft reform. Really all Philly was doing was taking advantage of a structure that wasn't well-designed by the league office. By encouraging that every single loss you compile gives you more of a chance at your franchise-changing player, that's not a good structure.
If they hadn't had that incentive in place, I think Philly trying to sign some free agents would have been fine, because they could have brought in guys that would've been part of their program later, but that wouldn't have injured their ability to get a top pick in the draft.
We're treading over ground that has largely been covered at this point, but to hear it from the league's most plugged-in reporter and the executive with the most direct ties to Hinkie provides a real window into what was going on behind the scenes. Food for thought, at the very least.