When Sam Hinkie addressed the media and answered questions at today’s press conference, it wasn’t all HOT FIRE jabs at Howard Eskin. Most of it was reasoned, intelligent, and rational answers to incredibly stupid questions.
Some of the questions Hinkie was asked were good. Some were reasonable. Some were actually questions Hinkie should be expected to answer. The rest were nonsense.
Hinkie was asked if this image, run as part of a promotion for season tickets on the Sixers’ official website on Tuesday, was a mistake or some kind of unfortunate “leak,” since it prominently featured Michael Carter-Williams. So, to run that down, someone (I wish I recognized their voice and remembered it now) asked the Sixers’ GM if an image the team’s marketing department posted days before the trade deadline was some kind of leak, mere minutes after the GM said the MCW trade was something that came about towards the end of deadline day. I still can’t comprehend how insane and stupid that question is.
What the gathered media needs to understand — and they really should by now — is that Hinkie is not the kind of guy to give non-complex answers. Yet, they still ask questions that require a dumbed-down response, and when Hinkie doesn’t give it to them, they can claim he’s being weird or skittish or dodging the fans.
And he did give straightforward, simple answers when required. When asked one of many questions about the MCW deal (most of which were some variation of “How could you? Won’t you think of the children?”), Hinkie said:
“We have great respect for Michael … from [his NBA debut], people have called and assumed we might move him and assumed that maybe they can get their hands on him … The only way we could ever move him is if someone blew us away. We rejected offer after offer … those [top-5 possible] picks do not move around very often. It’s very rare that they move. That made us consider it.”
When asked about the uncertainty of these future picks that are being acquired, Hinkie said, “We’re looking to build something that can win deep and to do that we’ll have to make tough decisions and be comfortable with uncertainty.”
He clarified that what may appear to be ruthlessness from the emotional perspective is an attempt to make the smartest moves for the team.
“It’s so critical to get from where we are to where we want to go, to be willing to make smart risks when we see them,” Hinkie said. “And we’ll do it unblinkingly.”
He told the media that he’s not confident the Lakers pick he acquired will convey this year, he thinks the Thunder’s pick they have has about a 30% chance of coming through this year, and the Miami pick is looking “increasingly likely” to land here. He admitted that the “process” comes in fits and starts, and we shouldn’t expect to add five wins every year until the Sixers are a championship team. He took on a bit of a braggy tone when talking about the team’s “flexibility to create a roster spot,” and got defensive about the “trope” that he robotically refers to players as “assets”:
“I have never in my life called one of our players an asset. Never never never. They’re with our coaches everyday busting their hump … We do talk a lot about assets in relation to our future picks and our cap space, but we do not talk about that among our existing players.”
He was really being as open and available as possible. Yet, the antagonism kept on coming.
He was asked if he thinks about the length of his contract when doing these things.* “What a disservice to the city and to the sixers it would be if [when is my contract up] was the first question i asked myself,” a seemingly insulted Hinkie replied.
“I don’t claim to understand analytics,” John Smallwood said in his column today. Well, here’s my suggestion then: Try to. If the team you’re covering believes in it and runs their team that way, maybe you should at least know enough to “claim to understand it.” You scoff and distrust Hinkie because he’s a nerd, but the opposite of Hinkie is Billy King, a man whose goal seems to be to destroy as many teams as possible in a march across Eastern Conference. I’ve said it a thousand times here (and to Kyle, who is probably tired of hearing the same line), but all “analytics” is, is an attempt to get as much information as possible before making a decision. Hinkie himself characterized it when asked if he believed more in “assets” than player development:
“I believe a lot in making a decision as late as possible so we have all the information … Hold the ball in the fullback’s gut as long as you can until you read the defensive end.”
I don’t agree with every move Hinkie has made. Hell, I don’t agree with every move he made yesterday. But to act like he’s out to insult the fan base and disgrace a once-proud franchise is idiotic.
*It’s the kind of question Eskin would have asked if he was there, since he likes to say Hinkie is making the team terrible on purpose and consistently pushing the plan back and back to keep his job. It’s the weirdest job security plan I’ve ever heard.