Since Doug Collins resigned as head coach more than three weeks ago, speculation surrounding the 76ers has been on finding his replacement. However, on Friday the Sixers secured the services of the man who will make the final call on Collins' successor, naming Sam Hinkie president of basketball operations and general manager.
Hinkie, the Houston Rockets' vice president of basketball operations the last five seasons, replaces Tony DiLeo. DiLeo, who has spent 23 years with the organization and was named general manager less than a year ago, will not return. DiLeo's contract was set to expire next month.
The Sixers are combining two positions into one. Rod Thorn, who now works as a consultant for the Sixers, formerly held the title of president of basketball operations.
"I'm sad to see Rod and Tony go," the Sixers' Evan Turner said Friday. "Welcome to Sam Hinkie. Hopefully, he has an idea of how to get us all back on track. Hopefully, everything is positive."
Hinkie signed a multiyear deal. He is one of the league's leading proponents of advanced statistics.
Hinkie interviewed for the job last season, but the Sixers ultimately chose to promote DiLeo.
However, it has been clear since Josh Harris purchased the franchise that he wanted to strengthen the team's use of analytics. Among the candidates who interviewed for the job last season were Boston assistant general manager Mike Zarren, former New Orleans general manager Jeff Bower, and former Portland assistant general manager and ESPN analyst Tom Penn.
The Sixers, who went 34-48 last season, hired Aaron Barzilai as the director of analytics in November.
While in Houston, Hinkie played a major role in managing the salary cap, drafting players, and scouting. He was hired by Houston in 2005 to serve as a special assistant to then-general manager Carroll Dawson.
Hinkie represents a stark departure from business as usual for the Sixers. DiLeo is more of an old-school traditionalist who relied more on his eyes than on crunching numbers. The same is true of Thorn.
Harris had been asked on multiple occasions if he would extend DiLeo's contract, but Harris never gave DiLeo a strong endorsement. But as recently as two weeks ago, at the announcement that the 76ers had purchased an NBA Development League team in Delaware, Harris said that he and DiLeo were spearheading the search for a head coach.
Hinkie's hiring will influence the search for Collins' replacement. Until now, the front-runners to become the team's eighth coach in the last 11 seasons were believed to be Mike Malone, an assistant in Golden State; Brian Shaw, an assistant in Indiana; Jeff Hornacek, an assistant in Utah; and Sixers associate head coach Michael Curry.
One coach that has had his name loosely associated with the Sixers is current Houston assistant Kelvin Sampson. Sampson's name has been connected with the job openings in Milwaukee and Houston. However, now that Hinkie is in Philadelphia, Sampson could emerge as a favorite for the position.
The Hinkie File
Sam Hinkie just completed his eighth full season with the Rockets. He has been the executive vice president of basketball operations since 2010.
He was hired in Houston as the youngest vice president in the NBA in 2007. Before that, he spent two seasons as special assistant to the Rockets general manager.
He is seen as an expert in analytics, the day-to-day management of basketball operations, the salary cap, and scouting college and other pro players.
Before joining the Rockets, Hinkie advised two NFL teams on draft strategies and using statistical analysis to improve decision making.
Hinkie previously worked for Bain & Company, a global strategy consulting firm, and private equity and venture capital firms.
Hinkie is married and has two sons.
He graduated summa cum laude from the University of Oklahoma, was named one of the top 60 undergraduate students in the nation by USA Today, and has an MBA from Stanford.
SOURCE: Houston Rockets