The 76ers crunched the numbers and made a decision to put the franchise in the hands of an analytics guru.
A person familiar with the decision said the Sixers have employed Sam Hinkie as team president and general manager. The person spoke on condition of anonymity as the deal wasn’t expected to become official until this week.
Hinkie, the executive VP of basketball operations for the Houston Rockets, was the top choice by owner Joshua Harris to control the rebuilding of the beleaguered franchise.
Hinkie is an analytics disciple and spoke in March at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference. His conference bio listed him as an ”original contributor to the leading sports analytics conference held annually at MIT.”
The Rockets became the 1st NBA team to manage the basketball operations of its D-League team. Likely as a sign of what’s ahead, the 76ers last month acquired a team to compete in the NBA’s developmental league in Delaware.
Hinkie must now hire a coach after Doug Collins resigned following 3 seasons. Collins and former Rod Thorn are officially consultants for the team, but are now in the background of a major reconstruction project that Harris, Hinkie and a new coach will tackle.
Tony DiLeo is out after one full season as Sixers GM. DiLeo, who completed his 23rd season with the Sixers, had been working as senior VP before his promotion. He had a brief stint as an assistant in the early 1990s, and took control of as interim coach in December 2008 after Maurice Cheeks was fired.
DiLeo was widely credited – and now blamed – for orchestrating the botched deal for center Andrew Bynum. DiLeo did not right away return a request for comment.
Sixers went to the playoffs in Collins’ first 2 seasons, and advanced to the Eastern Conference semifinals last season. But with Bynum injured all season, the 76ers stumbled to a 34-48 finish this season.
Bynum never played for the Sixers due to bone bruises in both knees. He insisted from training camp he would play this season, only to shut it down for good on March 18 and undergo season-ending arthroscopic surgery on both knees. Bynum earned $16.5 million this season and is set to become an unrestricted free agent. Baseball spreads
Bynum is one of 6 free agents for the Sixers, who are devoid in any real assets. Jrue Holiday was an All-Star in his 3rd full season and joined Wilt Chamberlain as the 2 players in the franchise’s 50-year history to average more than 17 points and 8 assists for an entire season.
Thaddeus Young and Evan Turner are solid assets. But those 2 standouts – along with Holiday – weren’t enough to help lead the Sixers back to the postseason.
In a preview of the looming shakeup, the Sixers hired Aaron Barzilai as their analytics director in November. He is the founder of a website which presents adjusted and unadjusted plus/minus ratings for players and units to illustrate the impact a player has on the court as well as on a team’s offensive and defensive efficiency.