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Donnellon: Sam Hinkie and the gifts that keep on giving

The Sacramento Kings lost Wednesday night for the fifth time this month and well, bless their holiday spirit.

You know why. The Kings have just three more wins than the Sixers right now. And Ben Simmons has no chance of joining them in January.

He may be ready to play for the Sixers by then, however, if the appearance of him shooting free throws at practice these days is a harbinger. That, of course, could mean more winning around here than we're used to, even – Egads! – dropping out of the NBA draft lottery for the first time in four years.

But fear not. For the gifts of that self-exiled wise man — Sam Hinkie – just keep on coming. It didn't seem like much of a big deal in the summer of 2015 when the former Sixers general manager dealt two later round picks in 2015 for a package of players that included Nik Stauskas and some draft pick maneuvering in later years. He had too many picks, the Kings had salaries to dump, everyone goes home happy.

But one such maneuver – allowing the Sixers to swap picks with the Kings in the 2017 draft – alleviates any concerns that playing well would result in too many meaningless wins and endanger the chance of the Sixers choosing first, second, or third again. Especially given the Kings' current state of chaos – chaos that may extend beyond this season, and hand the Sixers another top pick in 2019.

By then, they may be custom-making Hinkie's parade float. But let's not get ahead of ourselves, tempting though it is. On the not-so-distant horizon is the specter of Simmons joining Joel Embiid, Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor on the floor, or various combinations of that.

The bloody process is finally playing out in front of our very eyes, unconditionally.

Without endangering any future asset.

Sam-tas calls, all coming to town.

With more gifts on the way.