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For Sixers' Hinkie, signing Aldemir is a big deal

GM Sam Hinkie put his reputation on line by adding Furekn Aldemire, who made his debut against the Celtics.

Sixers general manager Sam Hinkie has shown he's a good evaluator of talent. (C.F. Sanchez/Staff file photo)
Sixers general manager Sam Hinkie has shown he's a good evaluator of talent. (C.F. Sanchez/Staff file photo)Read more

WE ALREADY know that Sixers general manager and president of basketball operations Sam Hinkie can tear down.

In a bit more than the 1 1/2 years since he unleashed his plan to remake the 76ers, he has put together a team of young and inexperienced players that has won 21 of its first 85 games.

If you believe that second-year point guard and reigning rookie of the year Michael Carter-Williams; redshirt rookie big man Nerlens Noel; injured rookie center Joel Embiid and missing-in-action (well, actually in Europe) rookie Dario Saric can max out as high-ceiling prospects, Hinkie has shown he knows what to do with lottery picks.

If you want to make the early assessment that third-year guard Tony Wroten, rookie second-round pick KJ McDaniels and Development League graduate Robert Covington are diamonds in the rough, Hinkie has shown he might have a penchant for getting value for little or nothing.

To me, however, yesterday's addition of 23-year-old forward/center Furkan Aldemir is the first test of whether Hinkie is as good a talent evaluator as he is purported to be.

The 6-9, 250-pound native of Turkey signed a contract reportedly worth around $12 million for 4 years.

He made his NBA debut in the second quarter of last night's game with the Boston Celtics. Aldemir played 10 minutes and finished with two points.

Drafting lottery picks is easy. It can always be hit-or-miss but it doesn't take much work to go through the same scouting reports that everybody else has to determine who should be drafted where.

Trading nothing to get Wroten, a former first-round pick languishing in Memphis; picking McDaniels and finding Covington amid 20-plus D-League prospects signed to non-guaranteed minimum or 10-day contracts should not be ignored, but they were also low-risk gambles that can easily be recovered from should they go awry.

It is easy to venture when there is little to lose.

Aldemir, who was originally drafted 53rd overall by the Los Angeles Clippers in 2012, subsequently traded to the Houston Rockets, then acquired by the Sixers in July of last year, is different.

There is risk attached to him.

Outside of the contracts to first-round picks Noel, Carter-Williams and Embiid, which are set by the collective bargaining agreement, Aldemir is the first player move by Hinkie that requires a long-term commitment for significant money.

It's not for max-level money, but if you get too many of these kinds of signings wrong, they will painfully add up.

The contract for Aldemir has been reported as being fully guaranteed for the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons and partially guaranteed for 2016-17 and 2017-18.

An average of $3 million a season is not mind-blowing but it isn't chump change, either.

This is not another 10-day contract with another D-Leaguer. The length and money are clear indicators that Hinkie believes Aldemir is a player he thinks can be a part of the future.

It will be interesting to see if Aldemir's play justifies what Hinkie has invested in him.

Around Thanksgiving, when the rumors started about Aldemir leaving Galatasary to come to the Sixers, a scout told Daily News Sixers beat writer Bob Cooney that Aldemir was a "marginal NBA player."

Several other scouts said they did not believe Aldemir could be as good as former Sixers big man Lavoy Allen - which throws up a caution flag.

Sixers fans need Hinkie, and not those scouts, to be proven right about Aldemir. The franchise's future is almost exclusively tied to Hinkie's skills as a talent evaluator. He must know what he is doing when looking at players.

Because the Sixers are all-in with Hinkie, you want to start to see that he has an eye for talent that actually is sharper than the other guys' - especially with all of the "assets" he has acquired for future wheeling and dealing.

At some point, those picks have to be turned into actual productive players.

The NBA's 2012 projection said, "If there is one thing Aldemir does well it is rebounding. He could become a rebounding specialist in the NBA."

Hinkie was part of the Houston brain trust that traded for the draft rights to Aldemir. Last summer he insisted Aldemir be included in the Rockets' trade with the Sixers.

Now Hinkie has decided Aldemir is ready to be a contributor in the NBA.

Aldemir isn't likely to be a superstar, but a team building with championship aspirations also will have to make smart acquisitions of complementary parts.

The ability to find the right auxiliary players can sometimes prove to be the more difficult skill.

Obviously, the success or failure of Aldemir will represent just a small sample in the larger picture of Hinkie as a talent evaluator.

It would not mean Hinkie is not the right man for the job if Aldemir does not work out.

But for a guy whose resumé has yet to be as impressive as his reputation; a guy whose genius with the Sixers has thus far been established more by hope than tangible results, Hinkie can help Sixers fans exhale a little easier by being right about Aldemir.