The worst kept secret, next to the true condition of Andrew Bynum’s creaky knees, was revealed late Tuesday afternoon when the Sixers introduced Sam Hinkie. He’ll serve as the team’s president of basketball operations and general manager.
The fact that eight front-row seats marked “Reserved” remained vacant was the first clue this wasn’t exactly breaking news. Of course, following a 34-38 season in which little went right, they should be used to empty seats by now.
Once he picks Doug Collins’ replacement as head coach, Hinkie’s job will be to fill them — just the way his old team, the Houston Rockets, did after pulling off a deal to land All-Star James Harden.
“The challenge in front of us is not for the faint of heart,” the 35-year-old Hinkie conceded. “To be honest, it’s a bit humbling. But I can’t wait to go to work.”
According to Hinkie, the decision to come here wasn’t made until he thoroughly researched Harris and the rest of the Sixers’ front office. That’s similar to how he’ll attempt to put together a roster, disseminating an array of statistical data and other analytical information, coupled with more traditional methods of scouting and evaluating talent.
As to where Bynum, last year’s spectacular bust, may fit in the equation is anyone’s guess.
“Andrew is an unrestricted free agent like hundreds of other young men,” said Hinkie. “I’m duty bound to consider him. But the Sixers should have an enormous advantage in terms of information about him. My first duty is to get up to speed with that.”
Hinkie wouldn’t guess how long it may take to build a viable contender. But, in a sport where only eight franchises have celebrated championships since the 1983 Sixers won it all, he knows there are no shortcuts.
“The most recent history in this league shows that superstar players matter,” he said. “Big moves may only come around every 10 years or so. The question is, how are you going to handle it to put yourself in the best position to make one?”
The Sixers are risking their future with Hinkie, especially considering their recent past hasn’t been very special. If they’re right, then who knows.
Maybe one of these days all those empty seats will be filled again.