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Colangelo hiring may lead to Hinkie's exit

The 76ers have been in this situation before, and that might not be a good sign for Sam Hinkie.

Sixers general manager Sam Hinkie.
Sixers general manager Sam Hinkie.Read more(Steven M. Falk/Staff file photo)

The 76ers have been in this situation before, and that might not be a good sign for Sam Hinkie.

The team hired Ed Stefanski on Dec. 4, 2007 as general manager and team president to uplift what had been a fallen franchise. After he failed to shape them into a winner after three seasons, the Sixers brought in Rod Thorn to be the new team president on Aug. 12, 2010. Stefanski stayed on as general manager.

"But they basically cut out all of his power," a league executive said of Stefanski. "Ed was gone before the start of the next season."

The official announcement that Stefanski had been let go came during the Oct. 18, 2011 introductory press conference for the then new Sixers co-manager partner, Josh Harris.

Monday evening - a little over four years later - Harris introduced Hall of Famer Jerry Colangelo as chairman of basketball operation. Hinkie will remain team president and general manager.

"I can't see him surviving this," the league executive said of Hinkie. "All I know is Colangelo is going to do it his way. If he doesn't agree with what they are doing, he's going to do it his way. That's the only reason he came in.

"He's not there just to be there."

ESPN reported that Colangelo's hiring was actually lobbied by the league office after NBA owners complained about the direction and the economic shortcomings the Sixers have inflicted on the league. An NBA source later disputed that report. However, commissioner Adam Silver was involved in the hiring.

The Sixers' third consecutive season of purposely losing games and recent off-the-court transgressions by rookie center Jahlil Okafor also prompted the league to step in before things spiral more and more out of control.

League executives also believe things were destined to fail due to Hinkie's sour relationship with agents. A couple agents have told The Inquirer that there's no way that their top free agents would come to Philadelphia. Some of the agents even refused to allow the Sixers to interview and/or work out the draft prospects they represented before June's draft.

"I've always said that they would have to bring in someone with a lot of credibility to get the agents back on board and being able to attract free agents," another league executive said. "They don't want to deal with Hinkie."

However, not everyone is sold that Colangelo's hiring definitely means that Hinkie's tenure with the Sixers is short-lived. That's because by getting rid of him after this season would be viewed as Harris admitting that the past two-plus seasons were a waste.

Hinkie's biggest downfall since taking over the job was being unlucky. The Sixers would be further ahead had they been fortunate enough to get the first overall pick in the 2014 draft, which they would have used on Andrew Wiggins. They also would have drafted D'Angelo Russell this past summer if they had the second pick.

Hinkie would have been praised for having key pieces in place with Wiggins, Russell and Nerlens Noel.

Instead, the Sixers picked third in each of the past two drafts, selecting an injured center Joel Embiid (2014) and another center in Okafor last season.

Embiid has yet to play due to right foot surgeries in each of the past two seasons. The Sixers also acquired Dario Saric in the first round of the 2014 draft. Like Embiid, Saric has yet to play for the Sixers as he has fulfilled his professional contract in Turkey these past two seasons.

As a result, the Sixers have three centers in Noel, Embiid and Okafor and a power forward in Saric on which to build their future.

It's possible Hinkie, who still reports to Harris, may have to get things right in this summer's draft to keep his job.

"He ain't staying there," a third league executive said. "Keeping him around [despite hiring Colangelo] is just step one of the exit plan so he doesn't get embarrassed."

We'll find out in several months if Hinkie can keep his job or suffer the same fate as Stefanski.

For now, he's publicly not looking at Colangelo's addition as a demotion. Hinkie views it as another person to help with "the process".

"I think he'll be in the mix," Hinkie said of the new chairman, who flew back to Phoenix on Tuesday night after a day full of meetings. "But I think the decisions come from a wide set of options. I'd be shocked if he can't widen our options.'