September 18, 2016, 11:18 am
One Big Thing: The limits of patience
So Sam Hinkie has penned his latest manifesto, this time on Twitter. He talks about his life after basketball, though it’ll probably end up being life between basketball if we’re being honest; he should find his way back into a front office before too long.
Basically he’s chilling in Palo Alto, taking a sort of ‘gap year’ that some kids take after college. Except, you know, with lots of disposable income and whatnot. Semantics aside, he’ll be talking (which I assume is teaching for people afraid of commitment) at Stanford and snowboarding, watching basketball and just soaking up some knowledge. Those all sound like valuable pursuits to me, and I don’t even snowboard.
The Hinkie tenure will stand as the most obvious symbol of an (allegedly, depending on how old school your content source usually is) overly-analytical approach but should stand the test of time as an unwavering commitment to a plan. To pin his downfall on analytics is foolish because that’s no longer the war being waged and to have ever framed it as Old School vs. New School was a mistake. In actuality the battle is between those who choose to consider all available information and those who don’t. But I digress.
Philadelphia is undoubtedly better off now than when they were when he came to town but some questions remain. On a large scale, was Philadelphia right to tire of the tank and did they wait long enough to see results?
That depends on some smaller questions. Firstly, was his tanking strategy correct?
I think it was. Lots of virtual ink has been spilled about the deadly treadmill; too good to tank, too bad to contend. The Sixers were decidedly not stuck in limbo.
Trying to compete when you just aren’t good enough is essentially digging your own grave. It’s how you wind up trading for Derrick Rose. Or like when Toronto traded for Rudy Gay- there’s Mr. Colangelo with an early appearance.
There’s a school of thought, usually among dumb adolescent kids, that the best way to preoccupy someone from pain is simply to hurt them in another spot. If your left arm hurt, for example, the proper course of action would be to get punched really hard in the right arm. Sam Hinkie is the guy that punches your other arm while ripping off a band-aid quickly. Philadelphia’s decline was swift and deliberate. It was also the right call.
They might have too much young talent in the frontcourt (if such a thing as ‘too much young talent’ exists), but there are some incredibly valuable building blocks in place for the next guy. To be fair, you won’t, or at least you shouldn’t, find many people who were opposed to the tanking.
The proper question might be if Hinkie was the right guy to get it done. In essence, with an assignment so simple, could anyone have pulled this off?
There are some shades of gray here but Hinkie should get some credit. Just about anyone could lose games with purpose but it seems like Hinkie is cut from the right cloth to tank so ruthlessly.
Credit Hinkie for flipping assets quickly and decisively. Reigning Rookie of the Year Michael Carter-Williams was traded halfway through his sophomore campaign when it became clear he didn’t fit management’s vision. Promising athlete KJ McDaniels was traded to Houston for Isaiah Canaan and a pick. In case you’ve been ignoring Philadelphia entirely over the past few years, assume every deal nets the 76ers a draft pick. Evan Turner, Thad Young, Spencer Hawes and Lavoy Allen also were shipped out for picks and lesser players.
The constant roster turnover has served two masters by ensuring that Philadelphia wouldn’t win much whil also unearthing useful players like Robert Covington. Covington’s shot selection seems to support analytic-driven hypotheses on the surface and he’s turned out to be a real player. While another manager might have discovered RoCo, Hinkie’s willingness to run a team of complete and total unknowns did set him up to find diamonds in the rough at a higher clip than usual.
So, yes and no. Most management teams can execute a tank but few will yield as much fruit as Hinkie. I’ll lean towards yes but some of that credit should go to the team’s basketball ops and scouting departments. Whether or not you think Hinkie was the right man for the job the question then becomes if Philadelphia (with some pressure for Adam Silver, apparently) exercised enough patience before dispatching their GM.
Did Philly pull the trigger too early? I would say they did, but then again pretty much anyone can say they weren’t given enough time to accrue elite talent through the draft. It’s easy to say ‘I didn’t have the time’ when the plan is to lose so much that a game-breaking talent falls in your lap in the draft.
Sunk cost fallacy be damned, it seems a shame to commit so heavily to The Process and then bailing when things are looking up.
The Hinkie tenure will be fun to look back on in time simply because Philadelphia has, rightly or wrongly, emerged as this petri dish for tanking and data-driven basketball. The strategy itself probably doesn’t deserve to be lauded, but you have to respect and admire the tenacity of execution.
So while they bailed too soon, this whole scenario is about knowing when to cut the cord. In a high pressure business, it’s tough to remain patient. Doubly so when the plan you’re following comes with a built in excuse.
Only time will tell if Jerry Colangelo and the Phildelphia 76ers were patient enough.
July 15, 2019, 1:48 pmVincent PoirierC, Boston Celtics
The Celtics have announced the signing of Vincent Poirier.
Poirier joins the Celtics after six professional seasons in Europe and is believed to be on a two-year deal. Last season he averaged 10.5 points (61.6 percent shooting), 7.3 rebounds, 1.1 assists, and 1.0 blocked shots in 73 games between EuroLeague and Liga ACB competition. Poirier figures to be battling Daniel Theis and Robert Williams for playing time behind Enes Kanter and doesn't have much fantasy appeal.
Source: Boston Celtics
July 15, 2019, 1:43 pmBen SimmonsPG, Philadelphia Sixers
Ben Simmons has agreed to a five-year, $170 max contract extension with the Sixers.
The Sixers reportedly offered up the deal a couple weeks ago and the sides have been ironing out the details since. It's not surprising that things resolved quickly, and Philly wasted no time in giving Simmons huge money. He's a jump shot away from being truly elite. For fantasy purposes, until we see Simmons either hit some threes or improve his free throw shooting, he remains a prime over-draft candidate. The stat set holes are simply too impactful to select the talented young guard before the third round.
Source: Shams Charania on Twitter
July 15, 2019, 1:34 pmWilliam HowardF, Utah Jazz
The Jazz have a verbal agreement to sign French forward William Howard, per Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune.
Howard is a 25-year-old from Montbrison, France who spent the last two seasons with Limoges in France's LNB Pro A. He averaged 9.2 points, 4.1 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.4 threes per game, shooting .411 from the field in 24.9 mpg. While last season saw Howard post career-low marks from deep, he is a .364 3-point shooter across five seasons in the LNB Pro A. It's unlikely that Howard plays much for the Jazz this season.
Source: Eric Walden on Twitter
July 15, 2019, 1:27 pmWesley MatthewsSG, Milwaukee Bucks
Michael Scotto of The Athletic is reporting that Wesley Matthews' deal with the Bucks is for two years and $5.3 million, with a player option on the second season.
Matthews was initially reported to be heading to Milwaukee on a one-year deal for the minimum, and that may still essentially be the case given the likelihood that Matthews opts out if he has a strong season. Either way, it's a nice piece of business for the Bucks, who get a 3-and-D wing player at a very affordable price. Matthews is shaping up as a low-end source of threes and steals, as he typically does.
Source: Michael Scotto on Twitter
July 15, 2019, 1:23 pmAndre IguodalaSF, Memphis Grizzlies
Shams Charania is reporting that the Clippers and the Rockets are the two teams still "strongly pursuing" Andre Iguodala in trade talks.
Charania adds that the Mavs and the Nuggets have also engaged Memphis but those discussions never gained much traction. The Rockets are hesitant to increase their tax bill while the Clippers don't want to part with Moe Harkless, who is the only player on the roster that represents a salary match. If either of these two teams wants to execute a trade, it looks like it will require another team.
Source: Stadium on Twitter
July 15, 2019, 12:43 pmAlize JohnsonPF, Indiana Pacers
The second-year option for Alize Johnson has been fully guaranteed.
Johnson, who put up an excellent performance at Summer League, will make $1.4 million this season. He is unlikely to play much but the Pacers have been consistent in their view that he is a player worth developing over the long-term.
Source: Indianapolis Star
July 15, 2019, 12:19 pmJR SmithSG, Cleveland Cavaliers
The Cavs are expected to waive J.R. Smith on Monday if no last-minute trade emerges, per Joe Vardon of The Athletic.
It would be shocking if someone went out and traded for Smith, who will be guaranteed $4 million of his $15 million salary. The Lakers have already been mentioned as a potential landing spot, and Smith doesn't figure to have a ton of teams eager to sign him after the way last season went off the rails.
Source: Joe Vardon on Twitter
July 15, 2019, 12:13 pmDuncan RobinsonF, Miami Heat
The Heat will be picking up Duncan Robinson's $1 million guarantee for the upcoming season.
Robinson played well throughout Summer League and will now officially be on the roster. He only appeared in 15 games last season, and although he's showed some promise Robinson will likely need another trade to go down to open up a serious shot at playing time.
Source: Tim Reynolds on Twitter
July 15, 2019, 12:09 pmHenry EllensonPF, Brooklyn Nets
Henry Ellenson has signed a two-way contract with the Nets.
Ellenson left the Knicks in Summer League due to personal reasons, but the former lottery pick has resurfaced with the other New York team. He'll give the Nets someone who can provide stretch four play in a pinch, but odds are he'll spend most of his time in the G-League. Time is running out for Ellenson to establish himself as an NBA player.
Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter
July 15, 2019, 2:08 amAnthony DavisPF, Los Angeles Lakers
Anthony Davis has decided not to participate in Team USA training camp and has withdrawn from FIBA World Cup consideration.
Davis has chosen to spend his offseason preparing for what he hopes is a championship run with the Lakers this season. AD is still a go for the 2020 Olympics and he'll be at training camp to support his teammates, but he won't be on the court with them. At least he's well-versed in that move from his days with the Pelicans.
Source: Yahoo Sports