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The process of “The Process”

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Adam Aaronson

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“The Process” has become the motto of almost the entire city of Philadelphia at this point. When Joel Embiid adopted the nickname “The Process” and told fans at every opportunity to trust it, everybody bought in. But while Embiid may be the most integral part of it, he certainly is not the Process. The Process is about finding the most logical route to building a championship team. As architect Sam Hinkie said, “a competitive league like the NBA necessitates a zig while our competitors comfortably zag.” It sounds simple to most now, Hinkie tanked for three seasons and the Sixers just took centers. But it’s way more complicated than that. It’s about taking risks and being okay with uncertainty, rather than just falling back into the safe space of being decent, without any trending direction. It did not start when Hinkie became General Manager and President of Basketball Operations. It started well before that, and it didn’t end until well after he was gone. But now it’s over, so let’s look back at every single key moment throughout the duration of the Process.

 

July 13, 2011- Ownership group headed by Joshua Harris purchases the Philadelphia 76ers for $280M

However one feels about Josh Harris, his purchase of the team was beneficial for the team, simply because of his original willingness to go through with Hinkie’s extreme plan… that is, until he abandoned it. More on that later.

 

August 10, 2012- Sixers trade Andre Iguodala, Nikola Vucevic, Maurice Harkless, and a 2017 first-round pick for Andrew Bynum and Jason Richardson as part of a three-team trade

This abomination of a trade was the transaction that truly kickstarted the Process. The disastrous aftermath coming from the Sixers trading almost all of their assets of value for a washed up Richardson, and a guy in Bynum who never stepped on the court, was what convinced ownership to sign up for Hinkie’s master plan.

 

January 24, 2013- Sixers Point Guard Jrue Holiday named to first NBA All-Star Team

Holiday’s breakout 2013 season was huge for the Sixers, and it wasn’t because he helped the Sixers right now, rather because it built his trade value for a future trade.

 

May 14, 2013- 76ers hire Sam Hinkie as General Manager and President of Basketball Operations

And here is the biggest hire Josh Harris will ever make. Sam Hinkie, former Houston Rockets Assistant General Manager, stepped in and implemented his unprecedented strategy.

 

June 27, 2013- Sixers agree to trade Jrue Holiday and Pierre Jackson to New Orleans Pelicans for sixth overall pick Nerlens Noel and a 2014 first-round pick; selected Michael Carter-Williams 11th overall

Most GMs are tentative in their first offseason, reluctant to make moves that are too impactful or risky. Sam Hinkie was not like most GMs. In his very first drafted, he made a calculated (and successful) risk, moving Holiday after his aforementioned break-out year for a young promising big man in Noel and a future first-rounder that would end up being a huge help come the following draft. And Carter-Williams, like Holiday, didn’t end up helping the team in the long run due to his play, but due to the value they got back in a trade.

 

August 14, 2013- Sixers hire Brett Brown as Head Coach

Hinkie’s first move that he took huge criticism for was waiting longer than just about anyone to hire his coach. Because his moves were calculated and methodical, using all of the time he could to make what he thought was the smartest decision. And he did. Brett’s career record is awful for obvious reasons, but anyone who has followed the team for his past four season can tell that he’s a very good coach, one who the Sixers should plan on keeping around for the long term.

 

August 22, 2013- Sixers trade a protected second-round pick to the Memphis Grizzlies for Tony Wroten

This was the first time Hinkie pulled off the “Hinkie Special”- trading nothing for something. Even if that something didn’t turn out well, it didn’t matter, because again, they gave up nothing, whether it was a heavily protected second-rounder that never conveyed or the rights to a foreign player who will never come ov“Trust er. Wroten was certainly a fan favorite in his time in Philly, until he was waived in 2015.

 

September 24, 2013- Sixers sign Hollis Thompson to multi-year contract

Thompson, a shooting specialist who could play some defense, played the most games and minutes during the Hinkie tenure. He ended up being waved the year after Hinkie’s departure.

 

February 20, 2014- Sixers trade 2014 second-round pick (never conveyed) for Eric Maynor, 2015 second-round pick and 2016 second-round pick as part of a three-team trade; traded Spencer Hawes to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Earl Clark, Henry Sims, and two 2014 second-round picks; traded traded Lavoy Allen and Evan Turner to the Indiana Pacers for Danny Granger and a 2015 second-round pick; traded a 2015 second-round pick (never conveyed) to the Los Angeles Clippers for Byron Mullens

It’s fair to say the 2014 Trade Deadline was busy for Hinkie and the Sixers. He finally cut ties with multiple long-time members of the team who needed to go. He bulked up his chest of second-rounders and cleared a ton of salary room. Sims was the only player acquired who ever played for the Sixers, but getting rid of those salaries and taking the opportunity to improve their first-round pick was a smart move for Philly.

 

June 26, 2014- Selected Joel Embiid third overall, traded 10th pick to Orlando Magic for 12th pick, 2015 second-round pick, Sixers 2017 first-round pick (originally acquired in Bynum trade), selected Dario Saric 12th overall, selected KJ McDaniels 32nd overall, selected Jerami Grant 39th overall

This was the most important date of the entire Process. Not only did Hinkie get the Sixers their 2017 first-rounder back, but he acquired Embiid, who may be the superstar the Sixers have wanted all along. The trade with the Magic was a masterpiece; as Hinkie got the guy he wanted in Saric, and got his pick back along with an additional early second-rounder. McDaniels had a hot start to his rookie year but has fallen off since after being traded to the Rockets, having bounced around the league since. Grant was an absolute steal, later being moved by Hinkie’s replacement.

 

October 24, 2014- Traded Casper Ware to Brooklyn Nets for Marquis Teague and 2019 second-round pick

Ware, who originally came to the 76ers on a 10-day contract, played decent enough to intrigue the Brooklyn Nets, and Sam Hinkie took advantage and stole their second-round pick in 2019. Ware never became a good player, and the Sixers now own the worst team in the NBA’s second-rounder a few years down the line.

 

November 15, 2014- Signed Robert Covington

Hinkie told an anecdote in his resignation about how crushed he was to not sign an undrafted free agent from Tennessee State named Robert Covington. And a year later when Covington became available, Hinkie pounced. And now, Covington is an essential role-player for the Sixers, primed to receive a big extension next fall.

 

February 19, 2015- Traded Michael Carter-Williams for the Los Angeles Lakers’ 2015 protected first-round pick (became Lakers’ 2018 unprotected first-round pick); traded KJ McDaniels to the Houston Rockets for Isaiah Canaan and a 2015 second-round pick; traded the rights to Cenk Akyol to the Denver Nuggets for Javale McGee, a 2016 first-round pick, and the rights to Chukwudiebere Maduabum

Firstly, the MCW trade was one of the biggest steals Hinkie ever made. For Michael Carter-Williams, who since the trade has become someone who objectively is one of the worst players in the NBA, the Sixers got a future gem of a first-rounder. In addition, Hinkie used the Sixers’ massive cap space to take on Javale McGee’s contract from Denver, also acquiring a first-round pick as compensation for doing so.

 

June 25, 2015- Selected Jahlil Okafor third overall, selected Richaun Holmes 37th overall, selected Arturas Gudaitis 47th overall, selected JP Tokoto 58th overall, selected Luka Mitrovic 60th overall

Here came the first real head-scratcher: why did Hinkie take Jahlil Okafor? Considering the Sixers already had two young bigs, it wasn’t a good fit. Okafor’s struggles on defense and the boards were apparent, right as the NBA began to shift to a league where teams need athletic rim protectors instead of back-to-the-basket scorers like Okafor. But in round two, Hinkie got arguably a better big in Richaun Holmes, who has since turned into a very valuable backup. And the two most important names here might be Arturas Gudaitis and Luke Mitrovic, because…

 

July 9, 2015- Traded the rights to Luka Mitrovic and Arturas Gudaitis to the Sacramento Kings for Nik Stauskas, Carl Landry, Jason Thompson, the right to swap 2016 and 2017 first-round picks, and an unprotected 2019 first-round pick.

Here lies one of the most lopsided trades in the history of the NBA. For the rights to two players who will never play in the NBA, Hinkie fleeced the Kings of the right to swap first-rounders in two separate years, an unprotected pick, a former lottery pick in Nik Stauskas, and two veterans in Landry and Thompson. So, why would Sacramento ever make such a trade? Well, they were going after some free agents. And as Hinkie often pointed out, cap space is a huge asset. So in order to have the money to pursue those free agents, they needed someone to take on the contracts of Landry and Thompson. Hinkie swooped in and obtained an absurd amount of value in assets just to take two contracts.

 

September 22, 2015- Signed TJ McConnell to a multi-year contract

Another undrafted gem sought out by Hinkie, TJ McConnell’s name was once a joke among NBA fans. But last season he proved himself as a legitimate player in the NBA, he’s no joke. The Sixers are set for the future at the backup Point Guard spot thanks to the under-the-radar acquisition of McConnell.

 

December 7, 2015- Jerry Colangelo hired as Chairman of Basketball Operations

And this is where it all went south. The NBA reportedly told the Sixers ownership they needed to do something about Hinkie’s radical plan, the team was too bad for too long. And the very same owners that signed up for Hinkie’s plan with a clear understanding of what would happen decided now that they were going to abandon Hinkie and his plan. So, they brought in the NBA’s recommendation- Jerry Colangelo. Colangelo, who rarely was in Philadelphia while working for the team, made (bad) decisions above Hinkie, and leaked negative reports about Hinkie to the press.

 

December 24, 2015- Traded 2016 and 2017 second-round picks to the New Orleans Pelicans for Ish Smith

Smith, who Hinkie had cut months earlier because he wasn’t an effective player, was now being reacquired by Colangelo for two very valuable second-rounders. Anyone who knows Hinkie knows how he treasures early second-rounders. This terrible trade for the Sixers exemplifies the short-sighted mindset that Hinkie tried to always avoid. Hinkie was all about having the “long view”- avoiding short-sightedness.

 

April 6, 2016- Sam Hinkie resigns as General Manager and President of Basketball Operations; 76ers agree to hire Bryan Colangelo as new General Manager and President of Basketball Operations; Jerry Colangelo steps down as Chairman of Basketball Operations

After all of the undeserved adverse obstacles his own employer hurled his way, Hinkie finally gave up. He knew he was on his way out, so he decided to leave on his own. No less than an hour later, news broke that Bryan Colangelo would be his replacement. Bryan, of course, is the son of Jerry, who is more responsible than anyone for forcing out Hinkie. Then news broke that Jerry Colangelo was resigning. How coincidental is that? Hinkie leaves, and with no search whatsoever, Jerry hired his son Bryan. And then Jerry left! What are the odds? Many critics of Hinkie (and there are a LOT of them) called the Process a scam, a con-job. But the real architect of the con-job is Jerry Colangelo, who took a job he didn’t seem interested in, forced out Hinkie, immediately hired his own son without considering other options, and then left. So in short, this man pushed a co worker to quit his job by making his job miserable, then replaced said co worker with his own son before quitting himself.

 

May 17, 2016- 76ers win first pick in NBA Draft Lottery

After Hinkie’s departure, some fans felt defeated. They spent years investing their time, money and emotions into this plan and right when things were supposed to trend upwards, authority was put in the hands of a family they didn’t trust. But then the lottery came, and the Sixers won, getting them the golden ticket needed to draft Australian prodigy Ben Simmons. Simmons ended up missing his rookie year with a broken bone in his foot, but he seems like a lock to become a fantastic player in the NBA.

 

June 23, 2016- Drafted Ben Simmons first overall, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot 24th overall, Furkan Korkmaz 28th overall

Bryan Colangelo started his tenure with the team on a great note. Simmons was clearly the right move at number one, but where he impressed was with the two late first-rounders, grabbing two high-potential wings who fit well with the current core of young players. Keep in mind that the picks used to grab Luwawu and Korkmaz were both, as usual, acquired not by Colangelo, but by

 

October 26, 2016- Sixers lose to Oklahoma City Thunder in opening game of 2016-17 season

This game was the most meaningful game the Sixers have played in at least five years. Not because that game mattered more than others, but because the debuts of Embiid and Saric finally came. Sixers fans had to listen for two years to critics of Hinkie and the Process claim that Embiid would never play due to injuries, and Saric would never even come over to the United States. But here they were playing at the Wells Fargo Center once and for all.

 

February 23, 2017- Traded Nerlens Noel to the Dallas Mavericks for Justin Anderson and a top 18-protected first-round pick (did not convey, became two second-round picks)

This trade was simply awful. Dealing a young rising star in Noel for a player in Anderson, who quite frankly isn’t good, and two second-rounders, one of which he decided to sell for cash months later.

 

May 16, 2017- Received third overall pick in NBA Draft via swap rights with Kings

In a very good draft class, the Sixers were unlike most teams- fixated on a few players, specifically guards. Getting the number one pick would be a dream come true, and a top three pick was almost a must. The Sixers’ pick landed fifth; worst case scenario. But, the ghost of Sam Hinkie made the save. The Sacramento Kings got the third pick, and the Sixers had the right to swap picks. So, the Sixers had the third pick instead of the fifth pick, thanks to Hinkie.

 

June 19, 2017- Traded third overall pick, 2018 Lakers first-round pick (if it lands in 2-6 range) OR more favorable of 2019 Kings or Sixers first-round picks (if either is #1, Sixers give up less favorable) to Boston Celtics for first overall pick

Bryan Colangelo finally gave Sixers fans a reason to trust him with this one. As much as he was fleeced by Dallas, he fleeced the Celtics even more. Getting another number one overall pick gave Philly the opportunity to add a third player with superstar potential. Ironically, Colangelo gained trust by making a great trade, moving two of three picks, when all three picks were acquired by Sam Hinkie.

 

June 22, 2017- Drafted Markelle Fultz number one overall

The Sixers entered this rebuild aiming to get a franchise-altering talent with potential to lead the team to a championship. Thanks (mostly) to Sam Hinkie and (less so) to Bryan Colangelo, they now have three. And finally, the Process is complete.

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