How do you pull it off? First, you talk it over with ownership. I analyzed the team and told them what I wanted to do, the guys I wanted to get rid of and the guys with future value whom we wanted to keep. We obviously traded away some of our veteran guys who gave us a better chance of winning right now for future draft picks and young players. The owners didn’t want to tread water any more than I did. They’d rather go down to the bottom with the hope of coming up, so they signed off on it. It wasn’t a fight at all. In a different season, it might not make sense, but this draft certainly makes it more appealing.
Our coach understands that too. It’s no secret what we’re trying to do, and you can’t lie to him anyway or you’ll lose all trust. We never really had to tell him, because the handwriting is on the wall. He knows exactly what’s going on, and he’s good with it. What’s hard is keeping it from the players. If you took a poll in all 30 locker rooms, regardless of how the roster looks, I bet they’d all say they are a playoff team. That’s good, because you want them to play with effort and lose organically. You never tell the players not to try to win a game, but it’s obvious that you’re putting out a team that’s just not good enough to win.
We’re not alone. Look at the 76ers. Since the draft in June, I don’t think they’ve signed a player or made a trade to add a legitimate player. A bunch of us realize that our teams aren’t good enough talentwise to do anything. You’re going to be bad. There’s no way around it. And even if you finish 0-82, there’s still a 75 percent chance you don’t get the No. 1 pick. We’re just going to take our lumps and hope our number gets called.
The logic sounds very Hinkie-esque. And the fact that the Sixers were the only team mentioned makes you wonder if the answer is hiding in plain sight right here. By mentioning the Sixers, the logical conclusion is that this isn’t the GM of the Sixers. But everywhere else, the shoe fits. Which is convenient. Plus, the Sixers haven’t exactly been subtle with their intentions (sitting Nerlens Noel out for the entire season is a good example).
James Herbert of SB Nation, who doesn’t believe it’s Hinkie, explores the other options:
Who could the GM be? Clearly it’s not Sam Hinkie of the Philadelphia 76ers. It’s likely not Danny Ainge of the Boston Celtics, either, unless he’s completely backtracking on everything he’s been saying leading up to the season. It’s also probably not the Charlotte Bobcats‘ Rich Cho, since for the first time in years Charlotte intentionally added experience when they signed Al Jefferson.
It could be Phoenix Suns general manager Ryan McDonough, who recently traded starting center Marcin Gortat to the Washington Wizards for a first round draft pick and an injured player (Emeka Okafor) who might never play a game for Phoenix. The anonymous GM mentions trading away veterans for picks and young players, and that’s exactly what McDonough has done with Gortat, Jared Dudley and Luis Scola. The Suns might wind up with four first round picks in the 2014 draft.
Another possibility is Orlando Magic general manager Rob Hennigan, though most of his moves came in the summer of 2012 and the multi-year deal given to Jameer Nelson that offseason doesn’t exactly fit with the plan that this anonymous GM is talking about.
It might also be Utah Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey, though he has publicly stated that tanking is not his intention. The Jazz declined to bring back veterans Jefferson, Paul Millsap, Randy Foye and Mo Williams this season, instead opting to see how ready their young guys are and clear up their salary cap situation.
Here’s the problem, though. The Suns have one majority owner, Robert Sarver. Our anonymous GM mentions “owners” and “they.” And neither the Magic nor the Jazz totally fit the other aspects.
But the Sixers? They traded away Jrue Holiday for Nerlens Noel and the Pelicans’ top pick in 2014.
They have multiple owners. Like, more than a dozen.
Brett Brown came here knowing full well what the Sixers were doing, and he even admitted that there are only six NBA players on the roster.
And just a month ago, Goodman cited Sixers sources on a relatively minor coaching addition– Villanova assistant Billy Lange joining the staff.
Anyway, whether it’s Hinkie or not, it’s a breath of fresh air to hear an NBA GM admit to tanking… even if he did so anonymously.
TOGETHER WE BUILD.