I address this column to the hoops wonks, the hipsters, the analytics-loving, draft-pick craving Sixers loyalists who regard GM Sam Hinkie as the smartest guy in the room.
Wake up, nerds. Smell your overpriced barista-prepared coffee. Sam is a Sham. You’re following a false messiah.
I recognize, and sympathize, with your cause. The only way for the Sixers to really contend is to be awful first. (Well, they’ve got that part down). Collect those lottery picks, free up more cap space, and somehow Sam will turn all those “assets” and “optionality” into a Larry O’Brien Trophy.
There is some logic there. I’ve even endorsed aspects of the long-game, saying in this space a week ago that I’d put my money behind Joel Embiid being Philadelphia’s top pro athlete by 2018.
But every race needs a finish line, every project needs a deadline. What became apparent at last week’s NBA trade deadline is that Hinkie is under no pressure to actually improve this team. Asked what the timetable is to progress from, you know, pathetic, he said, “What a disservice I would do to the franchise and the city if I put that upon myself.”
And so, like the kid losing on PlayStation, he simply hit “reset,” trading Michael Carter Williams for some nebulous future Lakers draft pick. I’m not going to tell you that MCW projects to be the next Jason Kidd – even if he is now coached by Kidd. But he was the best player on the team and a guy who just three days earlier was a centerpiece of the new marketing campaign: “This Starts Now.” Or maybe it doesn’t.
The lottery-protected pick the Sixers got back stands just an 18 percent chance of being realized this year. Without going into the mind-numbing detail, it’s further protected for another two years so that there’s actually a good chance whomever the Sixers finally draft may not have yet attended his high school prom.
But that’s Hinkie’s scheme. Just keep you folks awaiting a future that never arrives. Every time there appears to be light at the end of the tunnel, he just moves the tunnel. This way, he’s got no accountability.
I know I can’t sway the true believers. This modern-day Charles Ponzi has you in his grasp. It’s a different plan (as in, it’s not Brand or Bynum or Stefanski or Collins) so you assume it must be great.
It’s not. It’s the big con. Call me a Neanderthal if you like. But clip-and-save this column. If Sam the Sham (credit Ray Didinger with that nickname) pulls this off by, say, 2018, I will personally allow you to shove it up my nose. If not, you owe me a beer. And not a hipster PBR.