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No Sixers coach before draft? No big deal
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When last we saw Sam Hinkie – which, as it turns out, was just the second time we’ve seen the man since he was installed as the Sixers’ new president and general manager – he was at Xfinity Live for an event with Dr. J (see story). We’ve mentioned this before, and we’ll probably mention it again, because getting a glimpse of Hinkie is a rare thing – like catching reclusive author Harper Lee out in public. Or a yeti.
During the event, before he could make his escape and return to what we can only assume is the underground analytics command bunker where he works in secret, Hinkie said, “This is a busy time of year” and the Sixers “still have plenty of work to be done.” He was talking about the ongoing coaching search and next week’s NBA draft.
“There are a lot of draft prospects in and out and a lot of work behind the scenes,” Hinkie said, “and that’s the way I like it.”
When asked how the stealthy coaching search is coming along, Hinkie replied: “So far, so good.”
Then he pulled a smoke bomb from his jacket, smashed it on the floor, and disappeared without a trace, Batman-style. (Ed. note: That didn’t happen.)
While Hinkie thinks the coaching search is coming along just fine, “so far, so good” is probably not the language some panicked Sixers fans and media members would use to describe the process. Among those who are predisposed to talk Sixers basketball in June – an admittedly small group – the predominant opinion seems to be that the organization needs to replace Doug Collins before it drafts a player with the 11th overall pick next week.
Over the last few weeks, I’ve received e-mails and seen tweets from concerned fans that don’t understand drafting a player before finding a coach. The take – and this is a simplified summation of the collective view – is rooted in worry that the draft pick, whomever he might be, might not fit the style of the new coach, whomever he might be.
That is a popular position, and some reporters have adopted it as well. At the Phillies game the other day, one hoops-mad journalist said the same thing. His fear was that the Sixers will take someone the new coach might not like. I thought about it for a while and then came up with a super smart rejoinder that floored him and won the argument:
What’s the big deal here? The Sixers need a coach. Everyone agrees on that much. And they should probably interact with the public and inform them on the process rather than going completely silent (see story), because pretty soon the few people who care about pro hoops in this city might stop and move on to something more stimulating, like a reality marathon on Bravo.
But is it really imperative that the Sixers find a head coach before the draft? The notion that the new draft pick might not fit the new coach’s style is amusing, if only because the premise forgets that the Sixers’ roster already has several players that the new coach – or any coach – might look at only to shake his head and wonder how he could possibly work with that fellow. Kwame Brown. Spencer Hawes. Lavoy Allen. Kwame Brown. (Did we mention Kwame Brown?) What’s one more? If the new guy doesn’t like the new kid, well, dissatisfaction with the roster – aside from everyone not named Jrue Holiday, Thaddeus Young and, depending on how rose-colored your basketball goggles are, Evan Turner - is pretty much a prerequisite for taking the job.
Which brings us to the second reason why it’s not a big deal: The head coach gig for this team at this time is a caretaker position. The next head coach of your Philadelphia 76ers is not a long-term solution. (You’re not shocked.) The next head coach will be here to help mend a decaying team. By the time the Sixers finally start playing better basketball – when (if?) they’re ready to make the playoffs again and actually compete – the next guy will be replaced by another next guy, and the cycle will continue. That’s how the process works.
It isn’t important whether the new head coach absolutely loves or absolutely loathes the new draft pick. It’s important that the new head coach helps prevent a bad situation from getting worse before he eventually moves on or gets fired. As far as the draft pick goes, it’s only important that Hinkie digs him.
“The job,” Hinkie said at the aforementioned Xfinity Live event, “is about acquiring talent, bringing new players in that can be a pipeline of players for the organization for the future.”
He’s right. That is his job. And he’s out there doing it. Presumably. That’s the problem with undisclosed locations – cell/internet reception can be spotty.