Sixers GM Hinkie admits mistakes, says Jerry Colangelo hire has helped him, team

Posted: December 29, 2015

PHOENIX – Sam Hinkie has made his share of mistakes as the 76ers general manager. He admitted it.

That's not to say Hinkie isn't proud of his coaching hires and some player acquisitions.

"I think our record speaks kindly to all that," he said. "But I think there are other things we could have handled differently."

Perhaps the biggest blunder was his refusal to address the media after Jahlil Okafor's string of off-the-court incidents became public. Another major misstep was not taking advantage of the expertise of Lance Williams, the Sixers head of security. And a third glaring error has been his dealings with agents.

Hinkie realized he got it wrong in all three of these areas after discussions with Jerry Colangelo, the team's new chairman of basketball operations. The Hall of Famer is one of the most respected and influential basketball minds around.

Hinkie received a lot of criticism for going into hibernation during the Okafor situation, leaving coach Brett Brown to be the spokesman.

Brown had to address the four troublesome incidents, one in particular led to the 6-foot-11, 265-pounder serving a team-sanctioned two-game suspension.

The suspension came Dec. 2, hours after a second video surfaced on TMZ.com of him fighting with a heckler on a Boston street in the early hours of Nov. 26.

Okafor was also involved in another fight that morning outside the Storyville Nightclub in Boston's Back Bay, caught on video hours after the Sixers' Nov. 25 loss to the Boston Celtics.

In another incident, a gun was pointed at Okafor's head Oct. 4 in a dispute near Second and Walnut Streets in Philadelphia. The suspect got away, according to a U.S. Park Service police report.

In an unrelated incident, Okafor also received two citations after being pulled over for driving 108 m.p.h. on the Ben Franklin Bridge. He was cited for reckless driving and driving at an excessive rate of speed on Oct. 19.

But Hinkie never addressed any of those matters until after Colangelo was introduced as the Sixers chairman Dec. 7. His hiring came at the urging of the NBA.

"He's had good counsel about team security, which I feel like we really had big strides on already, how to handle that differently," said Hinkie, who recently hired more security personnel.

While Williams was available, the Sixers really didn't have much use for him outside of practices and games since Hinkie was hired in May 2013. The players also were encouraged to contact him whenever they went out. However, they seldom did.

Hinkie also realizes that just issuing a press release to announce the suspension wasn't the best way to comment on the situation, especially since that statement came six days after his first incident was reported.

"I think it's fair during a time when there's a question about someone that is as important to us as Jahlil, maybe people want to hear from another voice [besides Brett]," Hinkie said. "Brett and I have been communicating there and I often let him speak on behalf of the team, and he's often happy to, he doesn't mind it and I don't mind it.

"Sometimes a different voice helps."

Having a better relationship with agents also helps.

His not calling agents back in a timely fashion - or at all - has been well documented. His reputation with agents is even starting to hurt him.

According to multiple sources, Hinkie wasn't permitted to interview Kristaps Porzingis during his predraft workout in Las Vegas in June. But Porzingis, who went fourth to the New York Knicks, wasn't the draft prospect that agents were trying to get from the Sixers.

Sources say that Okafor's camp wasn't in favor of him playing for the Sixers during the draft process. And there's conflicting stories about D'Angelo Russell. Some say that he welcomed the idea of playing in Philadelphia, at least initially in the draft process. Others say he wasn't in favor.

One agent said in October that he doesn't want his max-level players in Philadelphia. He is open to his mid-level players signing with the Sixers only if they overpay.

"Yeah, he's helped there, too," Hinkie said of Colangelo. "I think he's had lot of good advice and I had lots of questions there about ways in which we could do things better. And he's helped on that front already."

kpompey@phillynews.com

@PompeyOnSixers

www.inquirer.com/sixerblog

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