76ers formally hire Sam Hinkie
PHILADELPHIA -- Sam Hinkie wants the 76ers to use the Moneyball-type of thinking popularized in baseball to build a championship team in Philadelphia.
Hinkie can crunch the numbers using any formula he'd like -- he'd find the Sixers were pretty awful this season.
But that's why Hinkie was hired away from Houston, to build the 34-win Sixers into title contenders, not just by using traditional player statistics like rebounds and points, but through alternative -- and complex -- ways of calculating a player's value that often clash with old-school, front-office thinking.
Considered an innovator in the Rockets' cutting edge analytic efforts, the Sixers named Hinkie team president and general manager on Tuesday.
"I'm just trying to use information to make decisions," Hinkie said. "I think some people move along quickly and others don't. That's OK."
Hinkie replaced president Rod Thorn, who moved into a consulting role, and GM Tony DiLeo, fired after one year on the job and 23 years total in the front office.
Hinkie spent the last eight years in Houston and was the executive vice president of basketball operations for the Rockets. A year after he was passed over for the GM job, Hinkie was the top choice this time by owner Joshua Harris to oversee the rebuilding of this beleaguered franchise.
Hinkie must now hire a coach after Doug Collins resigned following three seasons. Collins and Thorn are officially consultants for the team, but are now in the background of a major reconstruction project that Harris, Hinkie and a new coach will tackle.
The Sixers have a short list of coaching candidates but have not interviewed anyone.
In looking for a coach, Hinkie said all philosophies would be blended into a successful organization, not just analytics.
"I think it's all too-often overstated about how analytically minded a head coach needs to be," Hinkie said. "I think every head coach in the NBA is analytically minded. I think they all want to win. I think more and more, as they meet organizations that have really invested in this, they say this is helpful."
Hinkie replaces DiLeo, who was widely credited -- and now blamed -- for orchestrating the botched deal for injury-prone center Andrew Bynum.
Philadelphia went to the playoffs in Collins' first two seasons, and advanced to the Eastern Conference semifinals last season. But with Bynum injured all season, the 76ers stumbled to a 34-48 record this season, finishing 20 games behind division-champion New York. They'll have a first-round pick in the NBA draft lottery and about $11-$12 million in salary cap room. He's off this week to Chicago for the pre-draft camp.
Jrue Holiday was an All-Star in his third full season and joined Wilt Chamberlain as the two players in the franchise's 50-year history to average more than 17 points and eight assists for an entire season. Thaddeus Young and Evan Turner are solid assets. But those two standouts -- along with Holiday -- weren't enough to help lead the Sixers back to the postseason.
Along the way, Bynum never played for the Sixers because of bone bruises in both knees. He insisted from training camp he would play this season, only to shut it down for good on March 18. He then underwent season-ending arthroscopic surgery on both knees. Bynum earned $16.5 million this season and is set to become an unrestricted free agent.
Bynum is one of six free agents for the Sixers, who are devoid of any real assets outside of Holiday.
Without playing a game for the Sixers, Bynum said at his introductory press conference he wanted to make Philadelphia his home -- and the team was ready to commit.
"Where do I sign?" Harris said last August. "Show me the contract."
There were no enthusiastic endorsements at the Sixers' practice facility on Tuesday.
"I think of Andrew like the thousands of other young men walking around the world that are unrestricted free agents that have potential to play NBA basketball," Hinkie said. "He is one of those. I'm duty bound to consider them and look at them. All of them."
And from Harris?
"We're going to look into it."
The Rockets became the first NBA team to manage the basketball operations of its D-League team. Likely as a sign of what's ahead, the 76ers last month acquired a team to compete in the NBA's developmental league in Delaware. It was that kind of thinking that impressed the Rockets -- and the Sixers.
"His valuable insight regarding players and the NBA, whether building around Yao Ming or taking the multiple strategic steps necessary to acquire James Harden, has provided the Rockets with an unmatched advantage over the years," Houston GM Daryl Morey said. "Philadelphia will realize over time what an important acquisition they have made."
The Sixers hope they realize it if they can celebrate their first championship since 1983.
Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press
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