Process-Trusters Scared Adam Silver and Eventually Forced Sam Hinkie Out

Photo Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been nearly three months since Sam Hinkie resigned, said his 13-page peace, and vanished into the abyss. Today, ESPN the Magazine published the first words we’ve heard from Hinkie since then, though they come from the past.

Jordan Brenner sat down with Hinkie twice during the NCAA tournament to talk to him about… whatever. But it turned into a postmortem retrospective on how he looked at players and how his influence affected the league. One passage especially foreshadowed what was to come:

“So many of my friends will tell me, ‘Don’t do that. Don’t try that. It’s going to end poorly. They’ll run you out,'” Hinkie would later say. “And that’s the reason to do it, because fear has been the motivating factor for way too many people for way too long. There’s a huge agency problem in the whole business, particularly in my role: Keep the job.”

Sam didn’t look at things that way. He was the Ned Stark of the NBA. Full of honor and integrity and doing things “his way.” So blinded by those things he didn’t see the inevitable coming: Jerry Colangelo dropping the broadsword on his neck in front of his children. (In this scenario, Adam Silver is Cersei. Enjoy that image.)

But what was it that set him on this path? What was his “I’m gonna take the throne until Joffrey’s of age, and you can’t stop me” moment? As it turns out, it was our fault:

So it was, league sources say, that the glorification of The Process (by those who actually thought it would work) scared the commissioner, perhaps even more than the condemnation. Silver has made no secret of his desire to reform the lottery, a system in place for 32 years. And it’s doubtful that 17 owners would have voted to reduce the odds that the worst team got the top pick, as they did in 2014, had there not been sound logic behind the Sixers’ plan (23 votes were required to pass the measure).

This statement probably speaks more to those inside the NBA and front offices who thought The Process might work than your average Bob Analytics Dork, but the message is the same. The prospect of The Process working is what forced Silver’s hand, not lack of ticket sales for other teams or some idea of the “integrity of the game.” As Brenner writes, “it’s how he was undone that’s most telling of all and suggests how leagues are prone to respond when forced to face truths about themselves.”

Hinkie was dead set on exploiting the rules of the NBA for his team’s own gain, and Silver didn’t care for that. But it’s not because the Sixers were “bad” or a “losing culture.” Look at LA and Sacramento, as Brenner does:

The Lakers won 17 games this season, and their prized rookie, D’Angelo Russell, secretly filmed a conversation in which he asked teammate Nick Young about being with women other than his then-fiancée, Iggy Azalea. Yet no one blamed that incident on the organization’s culture the way Okafor’s troubles were linked to The Process.

Consider too: The Kings haven’t finished with a .500 record since 2005-06 and just hired their sixth coach in five years. In neither case did the NBA force a regime change.

By stepping in and facilitating the Jerry Colangelo move in Philadelphia, then, Silver sent a message: Gross incompetence is acceptable; strategic gaming of a flawed system is not.

Sam Hinkie may never get another job in the NBA. And if he does, having made an enemy of the league’s commissioner is not a great jumping-off point. But if he does, and that’s a big if, he’s better off being just straight-up horrible at his job than thinking too far ahead. It worked for Billy King and kept him employed way past his sell by date. So just be bad at your job. Be Mitch Kupchak. Be Vlade Divac. You’ll at least be employed.

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21 Comments

  • Once did a shot with the crossbow killer at out of whack jacks June 29, 2016 at 10:20 am

    I would love smash a 40 bottle over that AIDS alien looking mother fucker Adam Silver’s head

    Reply
    • What June 29, 2016 at 10:26 am

      What does this headline mean? Idiot.

      Reply
    • Massimo Duce Gargano June 29, 2016 at 11:40 am

      I don’t even bother reading the articles any more because i know they are old news, were probably stolen and contain so many grammatical and spelling errors.
      Now i just go right to the ‘comments’ section since i know Jim and Kyle managed to finagle some kind of contract that gets them extra cash for clicks and visits to this lame ass web site. Plus the more comments they get the more they make.
      This will give Jim more money to se some more shitty indy bands and…well i don’t know what Kyle does in his mom’s basement..so no comment there.

      Reply
  • Ron Burgundy June 29, 2016 at 10:21 am

    Great story. Compelling, and rich.

    Reply
  • F Angelo June 29, 2016 at 10:22 am

    People kill Sean Brace on this site, but there are many zero talents in Philly sports media: Marshall Harris, Dgunn, roob, Angelo, Moronganti, Rheewa, Rob Ellis, Gargano, Marcus Hayes…

    Reply
    • Adam Reigner June 29, 2016 at 10:31 am

      Sean Brace is a joke. Never deserved his radio show. He is a lifetime DJ, that’s it. Look at what he did with the Shady McCoy thing, he claimed to have gotten this groundbreaking sound byte from McCoy, which no one could understand – he spins it to what he wants it to be, and it was completely wrong. ZERO Credibility. NONE

      Reply
      • Shut it Down June 29, 2016 at 10:41 am

        The problem is Brace is a white 40 year old but presents himself as a 20 year old wigger. How anyone can take someone like that seriously is beyond me.

        Reply
        • Mrs Marks has huge Greek Orthodox cans June 29, 2016 at 4:10 pm

          Double D’s and that’s no joke.

          Reply
  • Matt June 29, 2016 at 10:34 am

    The irony of those last sentences being written by Jim is amazing…

    Reply
    • Unreal June 29, 2016 at 10:37 am

      Should be expected, he actually wrote in his first sentence “13 page PEACE”. I mean is this clown even trying anymore with that kind of horrible grammar?

      Reply
      • REAL June 29, 2016 at 10:53 am

        It’s UNREAL that you don’t get that was intentional.

        Reply
        • Unreal June 29, 2016 at 11:47 am

          Was it Jim?

          Reply
        • Rod King June 29, 2016 at 12:11 pm

          That is the probelm. You can’t tell with Jim. Also, the number of posts about the sixers is getting ridiculous. It is starting to feel like the 700 level.

          Reply
  • A woman's place is in the kitchen not on sports talk radio June 29, 2016 at 10:50 am

    Samuel Hinkie is from the tribe; therefore, he’ll always find gainful employment from other tribe members.

    Reply
  • I came inside a girl at LaCosta's bathroom June 29, 2016 at 10:54 am

    Hinkie was stinky.

    Reply
    • Ava Graham June 29, 2016 at 11:17 am

      that girl was me

      Reply
  • Innes' Failed Diet June 29, 2016 at 11:44 am

    The Hinkie fanatics completely overrate what he did. The trades he pulled off were nice. I give him credit for the Sac and the LAL deals, but that’s about it. It doesn’t take a genius to lose a lot of games and take the concensus best pick. Yeah he collected a bunch of “assets” except that he collected so much of the same thing that he devalued them. We never saw if he could put an actual team together or sign free agents. The best thing that could have happened to Hinkie was that he was canned. Now anything that goes right is his doing, and anything that goes wrong is on Colangelo.

    Reply
    • Fonzo June 29, 2016 at 12:10 pm

      Actually, it takes a lot of skill to only win 10 games. You have to be at a cap floor, you can’t throw out 5 TJ McConnells and pay them league min. He was strategic in taking awful contracts and acquiring picks as an incentive. As mentioned, GMs have tried to be good and are a shit show like SAC and LA. You can throw in Milwaukee, Brooklyn & Knicks in there as well. If Sixers were a stock, you’d have more buyers for them than most teams. There are more than 50% of GMs who wish they were in the Sixers situation right now.

      Reply
      • Innes' Failed Diet June 29, 2016 at 1:32 pm

        This is what I’m talking about. Losing isn’t hard, everyone does it at some point. Some even do it without trying. To set out to lose and succeed is no accomplishment. If my management gave me three years I could fail in spectacular fashion too. The big question is could be win. That is the great unknown, and for some reason he got the benefit of the doubt.

        Reply
        • Fonzo June 29, 2016 at 3:24 pm

          Losing is harder than you think when the 5 guys on the floor are playing for their jobs. While management is trying hard to fail, the players on the court have more say on the outcome than they do…even if they’re clearly the inferior team.

          Reply
    • Kev February 14, 2017 at 3:05 pm

      lol how can you say we didnt get to see if hinkie could sign free agents and then say he is overrated. you cant say that colangelo is good because he picked the number 1 prospect with the 1st pick. hinkie made moves that set this team up with value for years, which could also lead to big trades. he needed to stay at least 1 more year. colangelo is going to ruin this team.

      Reply

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