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Liberty Links: The NBA ousted Sam Hinkie because they were afraid The Process would work

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Who wants to hire Sam Hinkie? Apparently a bunch of teams.

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NBA: Sacramento Kings at Philadelphia 76ers Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

A major report hit last night, and former 76ers boss Sam Hinkie appears to be back in the mix for general manager jobs. Let’s parse through that before we get to the best of the rest.

Sacramento Kings cleared by Sixers to speak with Sam Hinkie - Marc Stein, Zach Lowe

Hinkie’s leaguewide reputation is a little better than people may have thought. The most interesting part of this story, however, is the fact that the NBA might be directly involved in prompting front office reshaping in Sacramento.

Adrian Wojnarowski has since deleted this tweet (screenshots live forever) about some of the forces motivating the Kings to shake up their front office, and the league itself is among the interested parties:

A follow-up story from Wojnarowski makes further reference to who’s driving the sudden desire for change:

Ranadive has been canvassing the NBA for possible candidates and has been mostly intrigued with Hinkie, who is living in the Northern California area now. There has been discussion at the Kings’ ownership level about keeping Divac in a player-personnel role, but transferring the overall management of basketball operations to someone else, league sources said.

In the aftermath of the DeMarcus Cousins trade to New Orleans in February, the Kings have changed course and moved toward a rebuild. There were questions inside and outside the organization about how Divac handled the Cousins trade, and whether he brought back the best possible trade package.

We’re approaching a year since Hinkie was ousted in Philadelphia, with the public explanation centering around concerns over the optics of the situation and a desire for the franchise to put a more competitive product on the floor. A year later, the league’s most trusted reporter (briefly) claimed the NBA is putting the screws to one of their historically dysfunctional franchises. In a strange coincidence, one of the candidates at the top of Sacramento’s list to make their front office more “professional” happens to be Sam Hinkie, the very same guy the league helped move on from Philadelphia.

That’s a mountain of salt being poured into the wounds of Sixers fans who believed Hinkie was the guy to trust with the franchise moving forward. He has gone from sacrificial lamb and Public Enemy No. 1 to the possible end product of more pressure from the league. In case I need to spell it out for you, this reads like the NBA’s only true motivation for ousting Hinkie was because they were afraid what he was doing might pay off, and/or that teams would begin copying their dramatic path to the bottom.

There’s probably (a lot) more gray area than that, but it’s irritating to watch unfold as former critics sing the praises of Joel Embiid, Dario Saric, Robert Covington, T.J. McConnell, and the future flexibility the Sixers have through cap space and draft rights.

It’s an insult to everyone’s intelligence to offer little more than a hand wave after the public smear campaign that took place a year ago. Meanwhile, people continue to excuse the incompetence of shameless tankers around the league — looking at you, Lakers — because their front offices fell ass backwards into rebuilds as a result of their own delusions of grandeur.

Anyway, to the best of the rest.


Tim Duncan appears on the Road Trippin’ With RJ and Channing Podcast

I probably learned more about Tim Duncan in this podcast than I did during the entirety of his playing career. This is an absolute must-listen, but here are some highlights for those who don’t want to sit through all 40+ minutes:

  • Tim Duncan used to play World of Warcraft with Channing Frye and Andrei Kirilenko, the latter of whom was obsessed with the game. Frye had a pet snake in the game that he affectionately named “Dick Puncher”
  • Tim Duncan once had a tongue ring, and played actual, real-life NBA games with it in
  • Tim Duncan would show up to post-game media availability, count to 10, and then leave after “fulfilling” his obligation
  • Tim Duncan named his recently-born child after a character from Guardians of the Galaxy

The Raptors Might Have to Blow It Up to Be Great - Kevin O’Connor, The Ringer

I think the Eastern Conference is in a really weird spot for the time being, with the Cleveland’s dysfunction persisting so late in the season and a lot of teams either not equipped to battle the Warriors or too young to be any real threat to the Cavs. Toronto’s future will likely hinge pretty hard on their performance in the 2017 playoffs, and given Bryan Colangelo’s ties to the stars there, you have to imagine the Sixers will be watching that situation closely.

Stock Up, Stock Down for NBA Prospects — CJ Moore, Bleacher Report

Reading the opinions of scouts within this piece, I continue to question the insane, inconsistent rationale people use in judging prospects and NCAA Tournament performances. Josh Jackson was on fire up until a foul-plagued Elite Eight game, but his rough outing was framed as negative commentary on his off-court behavior and demeanor. Meanwhile, Lauri Markkanen was eliminated one round earlier, laid a bigger egg against a worse opponent, and his stock is “level”.

Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot helps reinvigorate Sixers’ perimeter defense - Derek Bodner

If you’re not subscribing to Derek’s Patreon, I have no idea what you’re doing with your life.

Just as important as his focus on TLC’s impact of late is the analysis on Lonzo Ball; the overreaction to Lonzo Ball’s performance against Kentucky was a bit much over the weekend, and Derek balances some of the real concerns facing Ball with commentary on strengths that would help him fit alongside the Sixers’ core.

Draft Express Mocks Dennis Smith to the Sixers at No. 7

This was last updated on March 25th — and doesn’t account for the pick swap yet — but it’s an interesting look at where certain talents are pegged. Personally, I would be apoplectic if the Sixers took Smith over Jonathan Isaac, but your milage may vary. Some other lotto candidates still on the (fake) board where the Sixers are currently slated to pick: Frank Ntilikina, Miles Bridges, and Markkanen.

Jeannie Buss Kicks Her Brother Out of Ownership Group — Nathan Fenno, LA Times

Buss continues to make power moves in Los Angeles, and it looks like Jim Buss is now officially removed as a co-trustee in the Lakers’ ownership group, with no financial settlement to boot. The Lakers owners are out here kneecapping siblings and shamelessly tanking, yet the thinkpieces don’t appear to be on the way. Odd how that works.