It took him a year longer than he would have liked, but Josh Harris has finally begun to run the Philadelphia 76ers like he would any other company he acquired at a bargain. Old management is finally gone, and Sam Hinkie is the Stanford MBA-toting savant who will apply new logic to the problem of building a contender, and more importantly, speaks Harris' language.
You've read all the stories about how Harris was waiting for the opportunity to bring in one of his guys this summer, and when you look back at what happened a year ago on the heels of their moderate playoff success, it's not hard to see what was going on. Collins bought himself some time, but he wasn't allowed to make any moves with long-term ramifications to put his team on the floor. Nick Young, Kwame Brown, Spencer Hawes, Dorell Wright...all short-term deals. The moves with longer time frames were basically no-brainers (Jrue, Thad, Bynum).
So that's how we got here. Collins, out. Thorn, out. DiLeo, out. What happens now? That's the interesting question. Hinkie represents the right type of hire in this league, in my opinion. A rock solid understanding of the cap. Willingness to utilize advanced stats to build a roster, to find any advantage. Oodles of experience. At his fingertips, he's got an unformed roster with questionable talent, a huge question mark in Andrew Bynum, a few movable short-term contracts and the potential for a ton of cap space in the next couple of years.
What will Hinkie do? First, he gets to pick his own coach (even though the list was in the early stages of creation prior to his hire). This is a great sign. Harris hired his guy, now (hopefully) he'll get out of his way. Even before he finds his coach, though, Hinkie needs to decide what to do with this roster.
I've been pretty clear about what I would do (much to the chagrin of most readers here), and honestly, I think the odds are in favor of Hinkie taking a similar path. Daryl Morey is the face of the advanced stats movement. He's front-and-center at the Sloan Sports Analytics conference every season, he's the guy who's constantly making moves to accumulate draft picks, uncover hidden gems and last summer he tailored two offer sheets for the restricted free agents he wanted in a way that made the teams who owned first right of refusal to shy away. Here's the thing, though. While Morey has had a ton of street cred among the thinkers in this league, his results have been painfully similar to the Sixers. Morey inherited the #5 seed in the West and kept them right there for his first two seasons at the helm. In the following four seasons, the Rockets finished 9th, 9th, 9th and 8th in the Western Conference. Under Morey, the highest draft pick the Rockets have had is #12 (last season, they took Jeremy Lamb). That's not to say Morey hasn't made some really solid moves since taking over in Houston (the Harden trade tops among them), nor is it to say Hinkie will follow the same script as Morey here in Philly. Hiring Hinkie is a positive move. It signifies a move in the right direction for this franchise, a definitive move in the right direction. I'm just left hoping he learned more from Morey's mistakes in Houston than the rare win and he's willing to carve his own path whether he chose to bring Bynum back or get worse to eventually get better (something Morey has never done).