SAM HINKIE seemed at ease on Wednesday, even though he was in sort of an awkward position for him.
Hinkie was watching the 76ers conduct another spirited practice sesson at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. That isn't unusual for him, as he usually does just that when he isn't touring the country scouting possible draft picks. The oddity was that he was observing next to Jerry Colangelo, the NBA legend who was brought in to the organization on Dec. 7 to, many assume, take over The Process from Hinkie, using all the assets that Hinkie cleverly accumulated in his three seasons as general manager.
When the practice was done, Colangelo easily made his way over to the assembled media and comfortably answered questions for almost 10 minutes. It is a part of the job Colangelo has always been fine with. Dealing with people in the business has been one of Colangelo's best attributes throughout his nearly 50 years in the business. He's made lifelong friendships, built trusting relationships with coaches, players, executives and agents due to his affable nature.
After Colangelo completed his Q & A sessions, Hinkie made his way over to the microphones and tape recorders, having a surprising on-the-record session, during which time he tackled every subject posed to him, from the work relationship with Colangelo to the job he's done over the years to the bone healing in Joel Embiid's right foot.
Though he's been with the organization only a little more than a month, Colangelo has been more accessible to the media during that time than Hinkie has been during his career here. That isn't a whine by a reporter, it's just a fact. Colangelo believes in letting the fans know what he sees, what his plans may be, how he envisions the future playing out.
Hinkie chooses to be introverted, keeping his thoughts to himself, deciding to make himself on-the-record available only a couple of times a year. His relationships with agents and executives through the NBA have been questioned. Former Sixers players have said that Hinkie isn't very good at conversing, and that at times they could go a very long time without engaging in a conversation. You have to wonder whether he's the same way with others employed by the team.
Sound a little familiar?
Chip Kelly was recently let go by the Eagles, for many reasons, but one of them seems to be the inability to interact with people he worked with. I have never met Kelly; nor will I pretend to know what type of person he is, but there is little question from those who covered him that one of the biggest reasons for his ouster was because of that.
Colangelo's hiring for the newly created position of chairman of basketball operations immediately had people writing Hinkie's obituary as Sixers GM. Perhaps that will happen at some point. Maybe owners Josh Harris and David Blitzer have tired of Hinkie's patience in moving forward and want Colangelo to make this turnaround to "championship contenders" happen more quickly. Or maybe the thought was that Hinkie is great at tearing down, but needs help in the rebuild.
Whatever plays out, it behooves Hinkie to learn lessons from Colangelo. On how to deal with the media in order to build a relationship with the fans. On how to garner the trust of agents. On how to engage with the people he works with.
The Chip Kelly "my way or the highway" way didn't work here in Philly. His off-putting personality appears to have rubbed many in the Eagles organization the wrong way.
Hinkie doesn't give off the know-it-all attitude that Kelly did, mainly because we seldom get to hear him speak. But the personality flaws appear to be very similar.
Hinkie will talk basketball almost any time you ask, because he loves, and knows, the game. He can talk history, players, coaches, styles of teams past and present, and always the analytics of the game. It's a shame he chooses not to speak to fans more, because he's really pretty good at it. Perhaps Colangelo can help peel back some of the layers surrounding the general manager.
"I think there's a little bit of a counterbalance," coach Brett Brown said of the Colangelo/Hinkie pairing. "There's another way to see where we're at and different eyes coming in and making clean assessments of where we're at. I read some of Jerry's comments about Sam and what a good job he's done accumulating assets, and that is true, that's fair. I just feel like there's a partnership that those two are forming. Everybody is getting to know more about one another that I think complements each other."
While many see Colangelo as the piece that sends Hinkie out of the organization, perhaps he's just what is needed for the general manager to stay.
"We've got a long way to go. We've got a long way to go, let's be clear. But I think it's been better."
That was Hinkie talking about the play of his team of late. Maybe he could say the same thing when talking about his and Colangelo's work relationship.
On Twitter: @BobCooney76