Q&A with Sixers GM Sam Hinkie

Posted: August 30, 2013

NOT A LOT of news has been coming from the 76ers lately, except for the acquisition of guard Tony Wroten and the news of assistant Lloyd Pierce joining new coach Brett Brown's staff.

Yesterday the Daily News talked to general manager Sam Hinkie about the past, present and future plans of the franchise.

Q: There has kind of been an air of secrecy surrounding this organization since you took over, and the fans have felt distanced. Why have you chosen this route?

A: I think our fans will find me to be plenty open when we get to know each other. Our coaching search took quite a while and that may have caused that. Every little edge you can get is important. There is some level of secrecy as teams try not to let on to what they're doing. If we were to have had Nerlens Noel come in and work out before the draft, that would have caused a stir being that we had the 11th pick, and the kind of things that happened on draft night (trading Jrue Holiday to New Orleans for Noel) possibly couldn't have been possible. So we chose not to let teams know who we are working out, and a lot of forward-thinking organizations do that with the comings and goings of potential players. We did a lot of trading in the second round and that was because people didn't know our interest in (Arsalan) Kazemi (eventually landed in the second round via trade).

Q: The coaching search lasted longer than many expected, perhaps even you. Was part of the delay due to the fact that there may have been some candidates who weren't willing to oversee a total rehaul?

A: I would say things largely progressed as I would have anticipated. Finding the right guy was always the priority, and when we did in Brett Brown we moved forward. Our first interviews were in Las Vegas in mid-July when I went out there for the summer league, just after the Orlando Summer League. It was a solid week of interviews. Then there were a few more to follow and then some more. I was focused immensely on finding who was the best fit for what we were looking to do.

Q: But in your process, there were 12 other coaching vacancies filled. Were you worried about so many potential candidates getting hired?

A: I watched carefully how coaching searches were unfolding and the candidates we were interested in. I was comfortable with our game plan and with the people we narrowed it down to. In the end Brett proved to be the perfect fit for what we were looking for in a coach.

Q: Being as you are in rebuilding mode, how hard of a sell was that to potential coaches? That is not an easy way to break into the business.

A: I think it's much easier than you might think. People recognize the tradition of the Sixers and what we're trying to do and they see what's ahead, and that's clear. Those plans were much clearer in July than they would have been in June. We found all the candidates that we spoke with open-eyed and excited.

Q: Many have questioned the analytical approach so popular with you and the ownership group. Charles Barkley was recently on WIP proclaiming as much. You've stated in the past that analytics is a way to have more information. Would you say that it is the primary source in the way you will gather players in the future?

A: We'll just try to make the best decisions with all the information, however we can get it. From everything we gather from the scouts and how players fit and how every time we get a chance to look at all the information we can. I don't think any time you look at a player you look solely at one area. Gathering as much information as you can is the way I will go about things.

Q: You've only been here a few months and have gone through a draft, free agency and a coaching hire. What has been the most difficult part of your job thus far?

A: I find the whole thing to be invigorating. I'm wired in a way that I struggle to get enough of the work I do and the challenges I have and all that is required of this job. People find me to be real consistent about the way I think about things and how I want to act. Some of the things you might think would be hard for me aren't. I want to be consistent in what I do. It's important for me to do that. Personally, the hardest part is I've spent the better part of 3 months away from my kids, which is too long. That's not what we had in mind with our family. (Hinkie has recently moved his wife and two children from Houston.)

Q: You don't have an assistant GM, and longtime NBA guys like Doug Collins and Rod Thorn and Tony DiLeo are now gone. Before you hired Brett Brown, who are some of the people who were helping with personnel decisions?

A: We have a talented staff that's been working real hard, behind the scenes, that people don't see. Courtney Witte is our director of player personnel and we have scouts and we are taking note of things we've done personnel-wise. We will continue to look for organization people and we want ones that make good decisions.

Q: Brett Brown's name was tossed around as a potential coach as early as draft night. Was he a guy who was high on your list, even that far back?

A: He was a guy high on the list from the beginning and a guy I had a brief conversation the week of the draft, like several other candidates. I told everyone, including Brett, that we weren't going to be interviewing anyone the week of the draft, but after that it's going to be fast and furious and I want you to be ready.

Q: How come hiring a coach before the draft wasn't a priority?

A: Ideally I would have liked to have a coach before the draft, but it couldn't happen this year. I look forward to next draft when our whole staff can be a part of it. I'm an inclusive guy by nature, it's the best way to get good decisions. People bring unique looks into a player, unique thoughts on how to build a team. I'll look at what I hope will be a very big room and many people chiming in their opinions.

Q: When this new ownership group came, one of their top priorities was their relationship with the fans. Why has that seemingly changed?

A: I can't speak to what happened before I got here, but going forward I see coach Brown and I to be open about all the decisions we make - the trades and the acquisitions and how we see things unfolding and what parts we're excited about. I don't think we will ever be a team that talks about the very next thing we're going to do. That is giving an advantage to the other 29 competing teams. We have to find the right balance there for the organization and keeping the fans informed.

Q: If you could look 2 or 3 years into the future, what would be some of the things that happened that made this organization successful?

A: Several things we would change or are in the process of changing in a big way. We want to bring in a real influx of new talent into our team. We've already added several young players and we want more. I hope they come in and I hope they come in waves.

We want to do a lot of things that lead to a better environment. We want to finalize a new practice facility. That not only helps how potential players view us, but how current players view their work every day.

That is the way we will get where we want to go. That is what I want for this organization.


On Twitter: @BobCooney76

Blog: ph.ly/Sixerville

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