On the Beat: At Trade Deadline, Front Office Kept Big Picture in Mind
The multi-team deal that the Sixers helped facilitate in advance of the 2016 NBA trade deadline was, by all accounts, relatively minor. When stepping back, however, and examining the broader, big-picture objectives of the organization, it becomes clear that the transaction was executed with the same intent and purpose that fueled the Sixers’ dramatic moves at the end of each of the past two deadlines.
“The goal of the whole operation is, how do you put all the building blocks in place so someday you can have a parade on Broad Street, or a few?,” said Sam Hinkie Friday afternoon.
Twenty one hours after Thursday’s 3:00 PM EST deadline passed, Hinkie spoke with members of the media for nearly 30 minutes at the Sixers’ headquarters at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.
Now in his third season as the club’s President of Basketball Operations and General Manager, Hinkie came away from Thursday satisfied with what was accomplished. The Sixers acquired ninth-year veteran Joel Anthony from the Detroit Pistons, and also gained a 2017 second-round draft pick from the Houston Rockets.
“It’s obviously a time of year when you can find ways to improve your team,” Hinkie said. “You can find ways to build for the future. You can solve all sorts of goals not just for you, but for the trading partner on the other side in small deals or big deals.”
Hinkie added he would wait until the trade was finalized before reaching out to Anthony to “think a little bit about our goals, a little more about his.” The 33-year old center had appeared in only 13 games for the Pistons this season.
As the Sixers mulled over their options Thursday, they were able to tap into a previously unavailable resource in Jerry Colangelo. He was hired as Chairman of Basketball Operations in early December.
“I would say [Thursday] was probably symbolic of the last 60 days or so, and sort of the way we’ve operated,” Hinkie said in describing his recent dialogue with the four-time NBA Executive of the Year, whose resides in Phoenix on a full-time basis. “Jerry’s been great. He’s been super accessible. Any time I call, he’ll answer a call back in a few minutes. If you’re someone like me, this is my 11th year in the NBA, when Jerry was a young GM in the NBA he tells great stories about Red Holzman, and the kind of advice he gave him. To have literally a Hall of Famer, and now the Chairman of the Hall of Fame, to be able to pick up the phone and basically have on speed dial and call any time, day or night, and he’ll pick up, and we’ll talk about something. And he shares his viewpoint. And he shares it in a way that’s very easy to think about and accept.”
In further discussing the extent of his communication with Colangelo as of late, Hinkie said the two would speak “at least several times a week, if not more often than that.”
“When a few deals got close, I talked to Jerry a couple times a day over the last few days, and I called and said, ‘Here’s the kind of things we’re looking at.’ He said, ‘What kind of things do you think you could do?’ I said, ‘This.’ He asked a few interesting questions that made me think a little bit, and we agreed and moved on.”
When the time came for Hinkie to get approval on the proposed arrangement between the Sixers, Pistons, and Rockets, he first contacted members of the Sixers’ ownership group, and then called Colangelo. If anything, Hinkie made it sound as if Colangelo’s involvement has only strengthened the franchise’s commitment to the philosophy with which Hinkie has been operating since joining the Sixers in May of 2013.
“I think generally our notion would be to keep the end in mind of what we’re really trying to accomplish...and what might happen to our team once we bring a lot of this talent together,” said Hinkie. “One of the things [the organization] talked about a lot is the old saying of, ‘You don’t get to the moon by climbing a tree,’ and being able to report progress branch-by-branch. That’s not real.”
Still very real is the Sixers’ continuing efforts to make decisions, such as Thursday’s trade, with the overarching, prevailing mission in mind to contend for an NBA championship, or - as Hinkie put it - to “get all the way there.”
More immediately, the Sixers could be in position to reacquire JaKarr Sampson, who was waived as a result of the team acquiring Anthony. He will formally be placed on waivers at 5:00 PM EST on Friday, and can remain there for 48 hours.
Hinkie said, “We’ll make a decision then about who’s best for the 15th roster spot.”