WHEN NEW president of basketball operations and general manager Sam Hinkie finally emerged from the 76ers' war room at about 1:15 a.m. yesterday morning, he first kidded about the time that had elapsed since his previous public appearance (his introduction on May 14). He then took a deep breath before giving a statement about what his team had done on his first NBA draft night as a GM. You half expected him to talk at warp speed, just to catch up and all that had happened, similar to the way contest rules are announced on a radio commercial. Something like this (read as fast as you can for affect):
We traded All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday to the New Orleans Pelicans for the rights to Nerlens Noel, the freshman center out of Kentucky who missed much of the season with a torn ACL, and then we picked up point guard Michael Carter-Williams out of Syracuse with our 11th pick, as we see him being the heir apparent to Holiday at the lead guard position. Carter-Williams is a player we believe we can grow with and who can use his size [6-6] to become a premier guard in the league once he gets the playing time under his belt.
Breath. Read fast again:
We then made three picks in the second round but decided to trade all of them and then inquired about some more people we could trade to stockpile draft picks for the future, because, in essence, we aren't looking so much at next season to be relevant or even the season after that, but instead we are looking to unload as much money as we can, so that we can go after a free-agent heavy pool after next season, and we believe that with our draft pick and the first-rounder we got from the Pelicans, we really have a shot to grow this team into the type of young, talented group that can grow together and eventually be a regular playoff participant and eventually compete for a championship. Oh, yeah. We did draft the first player from Iran, who played for the University of Oregon, but his name skips my mind right now, and if I try to think of it, I would only have to sit here and talk to you longer, which isn't something I want.
Breath. Read fast again:
As far as the coaching search goes, we really haven't had the time to dive into that, as we were so focused over the last month-plus on the draft that it became an afterthought. We have made some phone calls to some people, but haven't had time to bring anyone in for interviews, and we really don't think we need to, as Michael Curry and Aaron McKie and Brian James and James Capel are under contract, so they have been overseeing all we have done and will continue to do so as we move toward the Summer League in Orlando in July. Rumors about San Antonio assistant Brett Brown becoming the new coach simply are not true, and when there is a coach, you will see a white plume of smoke arise from the towers at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine and then we will make a quick announcement, hopefully sometime before the crack of dawn. Thanks for coming, see you in a couple of months.
That's probably how Hinkie would have preferred for things to go, but it didn't. In fact, Hinkie was quite open and honest about the night's events. He was prohibited from talking about the proposed trade with the Pelicans, as it hasn't been approved by the league yet and may not be until July 10 or 11. All he could imply about the trade was that he had to make a "gut-wrenching phone call," presumably to Holiday.
What became so apparent in the draft was that Hinkie and company have decided to build for the future, get rid of some money and hoard draft picks.
If it all pans out - counting on a couple of horrendous seasons that will result in some more high draft picks - then Thursday could be the start of something big. If nothing else, it is the start of something different, and having been mired in mediocrity for so long, fans would welcome a change to different.
So where are they now? Not in a real good place, as far as on-court success. It has been said that Noel might not be ready to play until December. But if you really think about it, why did he fall in the draft as he did? He was almost the clear-cut top pick after the college season. Is the knee not as stable as thought? Could it be that the Sixers will have another season of having to answer questions about a center's knee and then see him also miss the entire season (yes, that does seem possible). Will Thaddeus Young and Evan Turner be here throughout the season or is unloading their contracts a priority, too? Maybe Spencer Hawes and his $6 million are unloaded.
It's not pretty right now, and it might not look too good for a few years. But it sure is different, and as Hinkie reiterated when he finally spoke: "I meant it when I said when I came here that staying status quo wasn't going to get it done. So we should recognize where we are and the challenges ahead of us, and try to make every day the best decisions going forward to put us on the best path moving ahead somewhere where our fans can be proud of and our players want to be a part of."
With that, exit stage left. Hurriedly. Talk in month or so.
In perhaps the most aggressive move he's made with the 76ers, center Kwame Brown decided to accept his player option for the upcoming season for $2.95 million. Though the money will be counted against the salary cap for the Sixers, it is highly doubtful that Brown will be on the roster.