For better or for worse, the 76ers are trying to put Sam Hinkie clear in the rearview. But it's clear he will remain a looming figure over the franchise for years to come.
Even as the team officially named Bryan Coangelo President of Basketball Operations Sunday, holding a press conference at the Wells Fargo Center, Hinkie was there, At least on the minds of the media.
"I want to personally thank Sam Hinkie for his service over the last three years," Harris, who said the plan was for Hinkie and Coangelo to work side by side before the former GM resigned this week, "we are truly thankful for what he's done and are sad he is leaving."
"We need to make this a free agent destination," 76ers Managing General Partner Josh Harris said, indicating with his words and actions that -- he hopes -- the painful part of the rebuild is over.
Coangelo has been named NBA executive of the year twice, most recently with the Raptors in 2007 and also with the Suns in 2005.
During his time with the Raptors, Colangelo drafted DeMar DeRozan (ninth overall, 2009), Jonas Valanciunas (fifth overall, 2011) and Terrence Ross (eighth overall, 2012). Before that in Phoenix, drafted NBA All-Stars Michael Finley (21st overall, 1995), Steve Nash (15th overall, 1996), Shawn Marion (ninth overall, 1999) and Amar’e Stoudemire (ninth overall, 2002).
"This is one of the most exciting jobs I believe that's out there in the league right now," Coangelo said, citing the cap space, draft assets and young talent on the team right now. "It's a situation where my predecessor Sam Hinkie has done a nice job of establishing the assets and resources to move forward in a positive way. I am sorry Sam will not be a part of that it was intended all along that he would."
Coangelo be calling the shots in June when the Sixers are expected to have as many as four first round picks (most likely three) and possibly the No. 1 overall selection.
His father Jerry, who served as President for the last few months (and helped usher Hinkie out) will step aside and serve as a special advisor to his son.
"We're at a jumping off point now where the organization is poised to take a major leap forward because of the actions of these past few years," Coangelo, who says he also will rely heavily on analytics for scouting and decision making, said.
"There is definitely a timeline in place," he continued. "Without going into specifics I have outlined for ownership what I think is realistic. ... I really want to make sure everybody understand that this is a transition from this measured rebuilding process to sustainable winning. We will be pragmatic."
Harris and Coangelo stressed several times in Sunday's press conference that the move had been planned for months, and the fact that Hinkie had departed the team -- by his own decision -- is purely coincidental.
"We didn't really lose faith in Sam," Harris said. "We spent many months chatting with Sam about how to move the franchise to the next level. We all agreed that bringing in talent ot make the organization better, to improve relationships around the league and to bring in a culture of winning."
As for his now legendary 13-page resignation letter, Harris said of Hinkie: "I was surprised that he sent it and I have no idea how the media got it."
Clearly, whether Harris would admit it, Hinkie did not provide Philadelphia with relationships or a winning culture.
Here's hoping Coangelo will.