Long Live The Process.
After three consecutive offseasons of corner-cutting and short-term decision making, regret over the
firing pushing out of former GM Sam Hinkie has become more of a given than a debate. The Sixers decision to hire former Rockets GM Daryl Morey as President of Basketball Operations has provided a new lease on life to a fan base that‘s mostly been left lamenting the “what if’s” of The Process.
Morey—Hinkie’s former boss and mentor in Houston—is the closest thing to Hinkie as the Sixers could do without rehiring the man himself, and it’d be an understatement to say this is an admission from ownership that they regret allowing the commissioner/league to meddle in their affairs four years ago. While we’ll never know what could’ve been done with the assets Hinkie accumulated before he left, Morey basically gives the organization a do-over.
The NBA is a star-driven league, and the Sixers have star talent in Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. Despite top to bottom ineptitude from the front office over the past few years, the two young “stars” have been a source of consolation through the organization’s shortcomings, and as long they’re around the calculus doesn’t change—assembling winning pieces around them is the name of the game, and both the Colangelo and Brown/Brand regimes failed miserably in that regard.
Morey—who’s been in win-now mode since the Yao/McGrady days in Houston—has ample experience mining for role players to fill out a contender, and to much success (.615 winning percentage). Here’s how he describes his initial job with the Rockets in ‘07: “We couldn’t afford another superstar, so we went looking for non-superstars that we thought were undervalued.” Obviously this describes the Sixers current situation to a tee.
Morey is a more legitimate/established version of Hinkie
What I mean by this is simple: both executives come from the same school of advanced analytics—Moneyball, if you need an umbrella label. The key difference between the two is Hinkie was forced to take a more radical approach (tanking) out of the gate in Philly than Daryl was in Houston, and he lacked the connections and good-will around the league to pull that off. If Morey had to tank in his first year he likely would’ve suffered the same fate, but his initial situation in Houston was more fortunate—in his own words, “the team was already good, we just needed our role players to have a chance.”
Morey, despite being cut from the same exact cloth as Hinkie, benefited from never having to go through a full-blown rebuild, and thus didn’t have to navigate the ringer in the fan base and media for his embrace of analytics. A byproduct of this is that Morey was able to develop strong relationships with agents and other executives around the league—winning provided cover for what was otherwise understood to be a radical approach to team-building.
Fast forward a decade and a half later and he’s a highly-respected NBA executive and an established basketball mind. Hinkie obviously doesn’t have, nor did he ever have that same level of legitimacy, which will go a long way in providing cover/leash for Morey’s decisions—despite them essentially being the same decisions Sam would be making.
*Quotes are from the New York Times and The Rights to Ricky Sanchez podcast
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