SAM HINKIE has proved that he is more than capable of tearing down an NBA roster until it barely resembles a group that belongs in the league. Apparently the ownership group headed by Josh Harris - and maybe the league as well - believes Hinkie needs some help with building it up.
Monday, the 76ers announced that Hall of Famer Jerry Colangelo had been brought on board as the special adviser to the managing general partner and chairman of basketball operations. Basically, the 76-year-old Colangelo has been brought in to clean up the mess created over the last two-plus seasons.
The team and Colangelo, the chairman of the board of directors for USA Basketball, talked for all of about 10 days before coming to this decision. Could it be just a coincidence that it happened after the Sixers mishandled the Jahlil Okafor off-the-court situations that finally resulted in his two-game suspension? Did the NBA perhaps have something to do with Colangelo coming here in order to stop the insanity? Of course no one will answer that second question, but it is a legitimate one.
Monday night's loss Monday to the San Antonio Spurs dropped the Sixers to 38-148 since Hinkie took over as general manager in 2013. Urgency for him has often seemed like an illusion, with Dario Saric still not here, Joel Embiid missing his second season, future draft picks and so on and so forth. Perhaps Colangelo enters at a desirable time, with four first-round picks possible this June, maybe two slotted turning out to be lottery picks.
But the theme Monday was loud and clear, and that is that the winning needs to begin much sooner rather than in the timeless future created by Hinkie. And Colangelo is here to push the kids (Harris and Hinkie) out of the way and use Hinkie's assets the way he sees best to move forward in a quick manner.
I've said and written many times that in order for their plan to work, Hinkie and company would have to hit some home runs when it came to drafts, free agency and trades. Perhaps he's come close, but nothing definitive so far. This hiring of Colangelo might be a grand slam.
What Hinkie has done here is unprecedented, in all of sports. It makes people feel uncomfortable, whether it's agents around the league or players he pursues. He doesn't have the best reputation among executives in the league as far as communication is concerned, so that is all the more reason bringing in Colangelo is ideal.
As for who makes final decisions, Colangelo, Hinkie and Harris all talked of it being a collaborative effort. Yeah, right. That's like bringing in Michael Corleone to collaborate with his brother Fredo.
"When I took over USA Basketball, there needed to be a cultural change in USA Basketball and that happened," Colangelo said. "It took a little bit of time to put into effect. Now it's just rolling. It couldn't be any better than it is in terms of interest of players who want to perform. They all want to play.
"It's a process. I'm certainly aware of who's on the court. I'm aware of second-round picks and free agents, guys who don't have much of a track record. I'm here to assist in areas where I can already see things that I want to pass on to Sam. These are things, not that he hasn't thought about them, when he hears them from me, he's hearing them from a different perspective. Hopefully some of those things are going to be addressed.
"I think it's been a learning experience for the ownership. They haven't been in this business. This is a unique business. People can be successful selling widgets, real estate, whatever it may be, and much of that can be transferred into the sports world. But part of it is learning it's a different culture. I think what they're going through and experiencing is an adjustment."
If Colangelo needed any proof of the kind of task he's in for, the first half of the Sixers-Spurs game was a good indication as the Sixers fell behind by 36 at the half while scoring all of 29 points. Colangelo, seated near the Sixers' bench in the first half, wasn't there for the second. Is it possible to be sick of your job after 24 minutes?
So why here and why now with the Sixers? Colangelo said that he'll keep his residence in Phoenix, though he will always be available by whatever electronic device the Sixers use. He's done just about all one can do in the sport, and wouldn't seem to need another challenge at this point in his life. Which goes back to how much the NBA may have played a part in this. Perhaps commissioner Adam Silver is tired of this product being the most laughable in all of sports and forced Harris to do something.
Whatever the circumstances that landed Colangelo here, whether it was league-mandated or a hastily made decision by Harris, it works. If the decision was forced by the NBA, call it a pinch-hit grand slam. If Harris was the driving force behind it, it might turn out to be the best decision of The Process.