CHICAGO - While the top priority for Sam Hinkie is to find a new coach for the 76ers, his first order of business will be here in Chicago where the NBA draft combine will take place today and tomorrow.
Hinkie, the Sixers' new president of basketball operations and general manager, and other GMs and coaches will get a chance to see potential rookies work out and conduct interviews with them. The Sixers currently have the 11th pick in the draft, which will take place on June 27. They could move up if the pingpong balls bounce their way at the draft lottery next Tuesday in New York.
More than 60 players will be on display at the combine, running through drills in hopes of improving their draft positioning. In what is considered a mediocre draft, and without yet knowing where they will select, the Sixers no doubt have a long list of players who interest them.
During his introduction on Tuesday, Hinkie said the timing of his hiring was fueled by the Chicago workouts.
"It created a little bit of an impetus for this to happen right now and everyone was working quite hard over the weekend to make this happen right now because Chicago is such an important event," Hinkie said. "It's rare that you get the opportunity to meet some of these players. Some of these players won't come to a particular city to work out or won't come based on your draft position. When you go to Chicago, you get to interview the players and see them up close.
"Even if it's not a target that you can reach now, a player that you think will go too high for Philadelphia's current draft position, I very much want to meet him, I very much want to quiz him, I very much want to try and understand what makes him tick because he will be a trade target in the coming years, he will be a free-agent target in 4 years, he might be a maximum target to recruit on July 1 in 9 years, and this instance now is worth collecting and learning."
Asked about what players or type of player he may be looking at, Hinkie said he has a long list. The Sixers have needs that perhaps can be addressed in the draft or maybe through free agency.
"I think there are obvious needs," Hinkie said. "Various positions - a backup '1' [point guard], more bigs - I'm unlikely to let that drive me. I will say that. I'm unlikely to let that particular niche that you need to fill drive me. We will consider it but I think the team has other needs as well."
Should the Sixers remain at 11th in the draft, there are many names that have been associated with them. Most mock drafts have the Sixers picking a big man, such as Kelly Olnyk of Gonzaga, Mason Plumlee of Duke, Cody Zeller of Indiana and Rudy Gobert from France. All will be in Chicago. Some other names include Lehigh guard C.J. McCollum, Indiana guard Victor Oladipo and UCLA swingman Shabazz Muhammad. They also will be participating in workouts the next few days . . . Bucknell's Mike Muscala, a 6-11, 232-pounder, will have a lot of eyes on him as he's projected as a late first- or early second-round pick.
The role of Sixers CEO Adam Aron has been a subject of much speculation the past week, regarding whether his duties have changed.
It never appeared as if Aron had anything to do with basketball decisions, meaning a say in free-agent signings, evaluating players or game-planning.
With the hiring of Sam Hinkie, who will oversee all basketball decisions and report directly to majority owner Josh Harris, that seems to further solidify the notion that Aron isn't directly involved in on-the-court decisions but is still totally entrenched in the business side of the organization.