Behind the scenes of Hinkie's exit

Bryan Colangelo may be replacing Sam Hinkie as general manager of the 76ers, but an NBA source said Thursday that the job of coach Brett Brown is safe.

The big question for Brown's future may be whether he can pivot from Hinkie's plan of losing games to acquire "assets" to whatever Colangelo has planned, which is presumably to start winning games.

As for when Colangelo will join the Sixers, he was originally expected to be introduced on Monday. But the Sixers may move that up to Sunday to avoid clashing for news coverage with the Phillies' home opener.

Hinkie unexpectedly resigned as general manager and president of the Sixers on Wednesday.

No one in the organization will argue that Hinkie wasn't about to lose his power. However, the 38-year-old's abrupt resignation shocked the Sixers, according to a league source.

"The way it went down was strange," the source said. "But actually him not wanting to have a partner or a boss, that part, like the very end, how this was going to end up, that has been [going on] at least a month in regards to hard-core conversations.

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"But the way it went down just [was] an indication of his [lack of] maturity."

Hinkie was with the team and members of the organization for three hours Wednesday. He was a part of the team photo. Then he met with managing owners Josh Harris and David Blitzer for an hour and a half.

Sources said Hinkie appeared to be in good spirits and even joked with someone before taking the team picture. But that evening, he sent a 13-page resignation letter to the Sixers' equity partners.

"I think he did some great stuff for sure to position a franchise in a time when it took a lot of strength to do so," a league source said.

But the Sixers were trying to get him some help, somebody to come in to partner with Hinkie on the leadership end and to build a culture for the players.

The organization wanted to attract free agents and have better relationships with opposing general managers, agents, and the media.

The Sixers thought that Hinkie did well, maybe even great, with the core jobs of analytics and dealing with the salary cap. However, they thought he was "not so great" with everything else that comes with being a president and general manager in the NBA.

So the Sixers met with Hinkie over the last three to four months about giving up some of his responsibilities and to work on his shortcomings. The conversations started to heat up in the last two weeks, the source said.

At first, they asked Hinkie to cooperate. Then they told him that this is how things were going to be done.

The source pointed out that Hinkie is still young, and the Sixers are the first team that he has run.

But it's also a critical time for the Sixers. They have three first-round draft picks this summer, possibly four if they get the Lakers' conditional pick. In addition, the Sixers will have an abundance of salary cap space the next two seasons.

Hinkie is known for excelling in those situations.

"If he was open to it and could check the ego a little bit, I thought it would have a shot to work," the source said. "He didn't think so. Now, it's on to the next phase."

As for Brown, he was trying to look both forward and backward Thursday.

"I'm not concerned," Brown said about his future. "The discussion I have had with David Blitzer and Josh Harris months ago, when they extended my contract and we talked freely about different things we are trying to do, give me confidence."

Brown shook hands with the owners and Hinkie on Dec. 6 to seal a two-year extension on his original four-year contract that was set to expire after next season. The owners then hired Bryan Colangelo's father, Jerry, as the Sixers chairman of basketball operations on Dec. 7. Jerry Colangelo wasn't aware that the team had a deal in place with Brown, according to sources. But when informed, Jerry Colangelo, who is big on handshake deals, told the owners it was in their best interest to honor the deal, sources said.

He and Brown have had solid communication since the elder Colangelo came on board.

While Brown and Hinkie were close, they weren't always in perfect harmony. The constant tanking wore on the coach, who was accustomed to winning at least 50 games a season as a longtime assistant coach for the San Antonio Spurs. Brown also had to serve as the team spokesman before Jerry Colangelo came on board because Hinkie didn't like to address the media.

And Hinkie's preferred offense, based heavily on the analytics of shooting mostly threes and layups, wasn't the style that Brown saw as successful with the Spurs. That was something Hinkie brought to the Sixers from his days as an assistant general manager with the Houston Rockets.

To his credit, Brown didn't complain even though his record sank to 47-195 while the team continued to sacrifice wins to secure lottery picks. This season's squad has a league-worst 10-68 record.

Brown did say he was frustrated that Hinkie didn't get to finish what he started.

But, while the source said Brown's job is safe, that doesn't mean the coach can relax. New general managers like to bring in their own coaches, especially successful ones such as Bryan Colangelo.

The younger Colangelo worked for his father for 13 seasons with the Phoenix Suns before becoming the Toronto Raptors' president and general manager in February 2006. He ended his tenure as general manager in May 2013 and stepped down as president a month later.

"I don't know Bryan well at all," Brown said. "I know a lot about Bryan, and I know people that I respect and have known for years that know a lot about Bryan. I think that it's something that we will talk more about later."

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