Lord have mercy. I’m just glad we’re moving this thing forward.
If you listened to yesterday’s press conference with Brett Brown and Josh Harris, you heard them say that there will be no hard deadline on the hiring of a new general manager. One month? Six weeks? Who knows.
In my mind, I think you give yourself 4-5 weeks to get this done, which would allow Brown to run the draft process, then cede free agency and contract negotiations to the new player-personnel executive, who comes in during the first week of July. I don’t know if there’s enough time to conduct a proper search and make a choice by July 1st, but this is priority number one. You gotta get it started and finished right now, and you bet your arse people are lining up to take a job where you would be overseeing two superstar players with a good chunk of assets and plenty of cap room.
The Sixers’ GM role is very attractive.
Here’s a list of names that come to mind:
Griffin is the former Cleveland GM, the trendy pick because of his relationship with LeBron James. The thought is that you bring him in, he brings LeBron in, and the winning commences.
And before I go any further, I think you have to define what you’re looking for in a GM. Do you want a guy who can lure superstar free agents, someone with connections? Or do you think LeBron and Paul George are making their decisions based solely on the players and the coach? I think it’s the latter, though the former does help. If I’m a free agent looking for a new team, I’m thinking, “hmm.. yes… I would like to earn $25 million playing alongside Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons.”
Or – do you look for an assistant GM who is worthy of promotion and keep building for the long term? Do you carry this thing forward with a long view or go for broke right now? It’s something to think about.
Anyway, back to Griffin, who spent just three years in Cleveland, coming to Ohio in 2014 after many years in Phoenix, serving as “senior vice president of basketball operations” before taking the Cavs’ gig. They won a title during his time at the helm, though the list of moves he made does have some question marks.
For starters, he fired Mike Brown and brought in David Blatt, who didn’t work out in Cleveland despite starting 30-11 in his second season. Blatt eventually gave way to Tyronn Lue. Griffin drafted Andrew Wiggins, then executed the trade that sent Wiggins to Minnesota and Kevin Love to Cleveland. Philly was a third party in the deal. He later kickstarted a struggling team when he shipped out Dion Waiters, Alex Kirk, Lou Amundson, and a 2nd round pick for Iman Shumpert, JR Smith, and a protected first rounder. He sent that pick and another first rounder to Denver for Timofey Mozgov. Smith and Tristan Thompson later got long term deals.
If you bring Griffin in, and assuming LeBron comes with him, that’s what you’re getting – a “win now” type of mentality with some risk. The timeline shrinks. You’re looking at more dodgy moves to try to get that title sooner rather than later, while possibly jeopardizing long term stability.
So if that’s your thing, a ring at any cost, the Griffin/LeBron strategy is your kind of move.
Here’s the thing with Hinkie – if you want him to come back, is it because you truly feel like he’s the right guy for the job? Or does sentimentality influence the thought process? Does Hinkie’s cult-hero status bring along feelings of nostalgia?
I asked that question on Twitter and here’s a sampling of the response:
I do because I think his whole process was leading to this summer. I don’t think he would have taken fultz. It was about getting the pieces in play and signing 1 or 2 free agents. This was the off-season he did the tank for
— Brian Fioretti (@Instigatorz889) June 8, 2018
If anything, the question might be does he deserve to see it through? For process believers, the answer is yes. There’s no evidence to suggest he will or will not be a good GM for a team developing current talent.
— Vince Piotti (@vincepiotti) June 8, 2018
I think Hinkie is a victim of his success—there are no more Vlade Divac types to fleece, and the Hinkie special contracts alienated agents. And the completion phase of the process requires different skills from the asset-accumulation phase.
— Michael Riccardi (@MAR1962) June 8, 2018
Did Hinkie deserve a chance to see this through? I don’t know. I wasn’t on the beat back then, but the Sixers were compiling talent and turning the corner slowly. I think that was apparent. The knock was always this idea that Hinkie was excellent at tearing it down, acquiring assets, and starting the rebuild, but did he have the skills to negotiate with agents and lure star players to town? Was he enough of a “basketball” guy or was he a corny “data” guy?
I don’t know. I have no clue. I don’t think anybody really knows.
But you can’t just say, “yay Hinkie! let’s complete the process!” You have to remove emotion from it. You have to axe the sentimentality. If the players trust Hinkie and have a good relationship, fine, but so what? Is that going to make Embiid cut down on his turnovers? Probably not.
The gig is different than the one Hinkie left two years ago. We don’t have any proof that he can finish the job, but there’s also nothing suggesting he can’t get it done. Personally, I just feel like the ship has sailed. The Hinkie story is written in stone, and I could see the NBA getting salty and combative again if the Sixers wanted to down that road. I think you’ve just gotta turn the page on Sam and let it be. Bringing him back would just reignite the BS conflict between pro-Process and anti-Process fans, and we’re trying to move this thing forward, not relive all of that.
Promote from within?
Eversley is the Sixers’ Vice President of Player Personnel dating back two years now. He held a similar role under Colangelo in Toronto and eventually left that post to take a “Vice President of Scouting” gig with the Wizards.
He held that job from 2013 to 2016 under longtime President Ernie Grunfeld and VP Tommy Sheppard. During that span, Washington drafted Otto Porter and Jerian Grant and Kelly Oubre and hired Scott Brooks as head coach. They assembled a pretty good core that has probably underachieved over the years.
It’s hard to say how much of a role Eversley played in all of that, or with Raptors’ moves from 2006 to 2013. But there’s no lack of experience there. Eversley has been around the league for 12+ seasons now and held significant jobs along the way. I don’t know if people view him as a guy who comes from the “Colangelo tree” per se, since he spent a lot of time with him in Toronto and came to Philly to work with him. I don’t know if there’s a stigma attached, or if people think he learned from Colangelo and would be the same type of executive. I don’t think that’s the case, and I think fans and media would probably create some separation there, but it certainly doesn’t help his case. The Colangelo connection feels like an unfortunate sidebar. I’d hope people wouldn’t lump him in there and just treat him as his own person.
As for the other Sixers’ player-personnel executives, I think Ned Cohen might get an interview, but he doesn’t have as much team-specific experience as Eversley. He was the NBA’s Associate VP of Basketball Operations before coming to Philly, so his resume is more league-oriented, obviously. Alex Rucker, the VP of Analytics and Strategy, would probably be third in line behind Eversley and Cohen. I think some companies do the formal thing where you interview your own people with no intent to promote them, but you go through the process anyway and everybody gets the experience of doing a run through for future interviews.
Rosas is working alongside Daryl Morey as the Rockets’ Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations
He had a brief, three month stint in Dallas with Donnie Nelson but came back to Houston after disputes over his role with the team. Rosas also has GM experience running the Rocket’s G-League affiliate.
From his linkedin page:
“In addition to his duties with the Rockets, Rosas previously served as the General Manager of the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, which is Houston’s single-affiliation NBA Development League partner. In his four full seasons as Rio Grande Valley’s GM, the Vipers won NBA D-League Championships in the 2009-10 and 2012-13 seasons, while reaching three D-League Finals in four years.”
Morey is well-respected around the league, so it’s only natural that one of the guys who works closely with him would be a popular name. Rosas was a candidate for the Hornets gig that went to Mitch Kupchak. He also apparently removed himself from consideration for the Pistons’ GM job.
Rosas could have taken a better gig at this point in his career, so it seems like he’s calculated in making the right decision moving forward. The Sixers’ job is attractive, much more than Detroit or Charlotte, yes? When you look at how Morey has assembled that Houston team, and the fact that a Chris Paul injury probably made the difference in a title vs. a game 7 conference finals loss, you’d have to say that there’s a pedigree and a “winning culture” that Rosas is attached to.
Danny Ainge fan? How about approaching his assistant general manager?
This would be a very Rosas-esque hiring, bringing in the #2 from a winning club.
Zarren is another “unpaid intern to executive” story. He’s a Boston guy and a former season ticket holder and blah blah blah. So the question is whether dude even has any desire to leave in the first place, or just assume the top dog role when Ainge moves on. When does that happen? How long would Zarren be okay with being second-in-command? What if that goes on and on and on?
He was there when Ainge pulled off the blockbuster move with the Nets in 2013. He was there when Ainge got an extra first rounder out of the Sixers and still wound up with Jayson Tatum. He knows how to build a strong roster and keep things moving forward.
For what it’s worth Zarren reportedly had the Sixers’ gig offered to him back in 2013, but declined:
“I don’t know all the details, but I know there was strong interest in Mike from Philly,” president of basketball operations Danny Ainge told the Boston Herald at the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago. “I don’t know why (he turned it down). You’ll have to ask him.”
Zarren is an advanced statistics guy with some Hinkie similarities. But he’s also been around the block and probably wouldn’t have any issue with agent relations or contract negotiations or the human side of things.
If he turned down the gig back then, I don’t know if he’d want it now, unless you’re sold on the core of Embiid/Simmons and ready to move out of Ainge’s shadow and into your own spotlight.
Wright is the Spurs’ assistant GM and has been in the role since 2016.
He didn’t cross paths with Brown there, but the common thought is that anyone related to the Spurs and R.C. Buford is a worthy hire. Wright is in his mid-thirties, a relatively young guy who doesn’t have a ton of experience, so his candidacy would be a long-shot I’d think.
I know, I know, the incident with the racist language from a few years back. That might be a total non-starter in and of itself, then you consider that the Sixers are coming off a scandal of their own. It would be terrible optics. (FYI Ferry was eventually cleared).
But there’s a track record of success and a Brett Brown connection dating back to the San Antonio days. There’s this from 2016:
Sources: Sixers have been discussing two possible candidates to share "partnership" with Hinkie: Bryan Colangelo and Danny Ferry.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) April 7, 2016
And this from 2012:
Sources also say that Danny Ferry and the Sixers is very real too… talks on going
— Steve Kyler (@stevekylerNBA) June 16, 2012
There were flirtations with Ferry in the past. I don’t know if the incident from a few years back disqualifies him from the start, but it’s probably a risky road to go down.
I’m only listing him here for the sake of conversation. I don’t see him popping up on a lot of other lists. Stephen A. brought up his name this morning on First Take, and after initially laughing, I sort of came back around and said “hmm…”
Here’s the thing, Dumars built the 2004 title-winning Pistons squad, a team that went to the Eastern Conference finals six straight years. They won 73 playoff games during his tenure. I think his name popped up as a candidate for the Hawks’ GM job a year ago, but otherwise you don’t hear a lot about him these days.
He did have a lot of clunkers, too. Darko Milicic? Rodney White? Trading Chauncey Billups? Huge deals for Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva? He also went through coaches in rapid fire fashion.
Not inspiring, but listen, those Pistons teams of the aughts were pretty damn good. It’s something to think about if you’re okay with a “retread” type of hire.