When the Sixers handed the reins of the front office to president of basketball operations and general manager Bryan Colangelo, he inherited a situation that was equal parts promising and dangerous. Although Sam Hinkie's rebuilding plan showed signs of promise in terms of young players and future picks, his inability to show improvement after three years ultimately led to his demise. This offseason finally seemed like the one where the team would see gradual improvement by selectively playing the free agent market, but the owners were seemingly ready to move on.
By bringing in a new general manager for the second act of the rebuild, Josh Harris had essentially poured kerosene on Hinkie's work and handed the younger Colangelo a match. Colangelo was expected to appease both the owners and commissioner Adam Silver by putting together a competitive Sixers team over the course of a summer where the salary cap rose astronomically, and the team had over $50 million to play with. The potential for disaster was certainly there, and at times it felt nearly inevitable. Yet after ten days of free agency, the 51-year-old former Executive of the Year has steadfastly kept Philadelphia on the path to a championship that Hinkie began constructing three years ago, moving through one of the NBA's wackiest financial periods with grace and purpose.
Outside of the top tier of players which Philadelphia is not yet appealable to, the drop off in proven talent was rather severe. This free agency class is filled primarily with role players befitting of solid playoff teams looking to cash out with talent deficient organizations, and the Sixers fit the bill of a team looking to overpay. Players like Harrison Barnes, Allen Crabbe, and Tyler Johnson (among others) may prove to be valuable commodities for their respective teams, but the longterm, high money deals they inevitably received was too much risk for relatively dubious talent.
Philadelphia's signings of Sergio Rodriguez, Jerryd Bayless, and Gerald Henderson were exactly how the team should've navigated free agency. From a playing standpoint, all three players fill immediate needs. Rodriguez was an outside the box name, but his ability to shoot from the outside and run an offense gives the Sixers something they desperately lacked over the past few seasons. Bayless provides some solid three-point shooting from the off-ball guard position, while also being able to handle the ball, and Henderson gives the team a solid wing defender/shooter. Most importantly, they come to Philadelphia on short-term deals at reasonable money, allowing the Sixers to keep the financial flexibility to acquire a star player if the opportunity presents itself. It's the perfect win-win-win situation. The team's owners and the league get to see an improved product, while those who cling to the values of The Process continue to see the plan carried out as it should. And frankly, the team still won't be good enough to the point where they're not in contention for a high lottery pick in a well regarded 2017 NBA Draft.
Hinkie's tenure may have only reached the point of being able to help acquire the top talent Colangelo now has to play with, but he's taking the baton in nurturing those players. Rodriguez's pick-and-roll prowess will do wonders for Joel Embiid and Nerlens Noel (if kept around), and the outside shooting threats of Bayless and Henderson will make it harder for defenders to collapse on Ben Simmons' dribble drives without paying the price.
The newly acquired veterans and the cap space Colangelo has left the team to work with will certainly carry the team into the third act of the rebuild: legitimate playoff team. Sam Hinkie would be proud.