Jimmy Butler

'The Process' is over in Philadelphia, long live 'The Process'

'The Process' is over in Philadelphia, long live 'The Process'

The Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday executed the latest in a seemingly endless series of roster resets. The team traded Jimmy Butler to Miami in a sign-and-trade for guard Josh Richardson, and signed veteran big man Al Horford, formerly of Boston, to a four-year deal. In addition, Tobias Harris remained with the Sixers, signing a five-year deal worth $180 million. 

There were many reactions to the moves from Sixers fans, and one thing I heard more than once was that these moves represent the official end of The Process. This was part of the sports talk radio chatter on Sunday, as well as the latest salvo in the never-ending argument over Sam Hinkie and whether his multiyear strategy of extreme tanking was worth the trouble. 

But then I realized something: over the course of the last four years, I've heard "the end of the Process" declared many, many times. 

For example:

Slate's Hang Up and Listen podcast, in December 2015, discussed "The End of the Process," after the Sixers hired Jerry Colangelo in a front office position giving him power over Hinkie. 

Hinkie’s resignation, in April of 2016, led Sports Illustrated to declare that the general manager’s departure “put the process in doubt.” A year later, David J. Roth would write for Vice that Hinkie’s departure “brought The Process era to an end in Philadelphia.”

The Fansided blog Sir Charles In Charge asked, at the start of the season in September 2016, whether that team's improved chances represented "the end of the Process.

Then-Sixer Nik Stauskas declared in a 2017 interview with The Score that "it's time that The Process is over, it's time that we start winning games, and start competing."

The Sixer Sense podcast declared in June 2017, after the Sixers moved up to draft Markelle Fultz, that it marked "The end of the Process." 

In a tweet in November of 2017, local PR guy Brian Hart declared the game-winning shot by J.J. Redick in an early-season game against Orlando "the end of The Process." 

Sports Illustrated wrote that “The Process is Over” in a December 2017 issue, because the team was ready to win. 

NBA writer Chris Sheridan, who would later emerge as a Sixers enemy for unrelated reasons, declared at the start of the playoffs in April 2018 that The Process was over and it was time to win. 

The Ringer, in a piece by local writer John Gonzalez, declared "The End of the Process" when the Sixers traded for Jimmy Butler in November 2018, in part because two of the players they gave up, Robert Covington and Dario Saric, were cornerstones of the Hinkie era. 

T.J. McConnell, who has played for the Sixers for the entire era, wrote a Players Tribune piece in December 2018 with the headline "The Process Is Over." 

The Washington Post asked "Is this actually the end of The Process?" in February of 2019, after the team's deadline trade for Tobias Harris. 

Bob Ford, in a Philadelphia Inquirer column that same week, asked whether the Harris trade represented the end of the Process, in the sense that it was the final cashing-in of assets that had been accumulated over time, as asset accumulation was a key tenet of the Hinkie strategy. 

"What if the end of the process was the lucky Kawhi shot?," Jason McIntyre wrote on Twitter Sunday, in reference to Kawhi Leonard's last-second shot in Game 7 of the Sixers' playoff series against Toronto, in May 2019. 

Bob Ford, once again, addressed the subject in an early June column, ultimately concluding that the three GMs -- Hinkie, Bryan Colangelo, and Elton Brand -- will represent “the beginning, middle, and end of The Process.” 

Which event really marked the end of The Process? There's really no right answer. 

The Process, after all, is something of a nebulous concept with no official definition, especially as fans continue to chant "Trust the Process" at home games and Joel Embiid has even adopted The Process as a nickname. 

Is The Process merely a euphemism for Sam Hinkie's tenure as general manager, and the resulting run of losing seasons? Does it count only the tanking period, or all events that flowed from it in the years afterward? Or does the Process continue for as long as any players that came to the Sixers as a result of Hinkie's strategy remain on the team, and therefore as long as they have a nucleus that's led by Embiid and Simmons? 

The two events with the greatest claim to represent the end of the Process are probably Hinkie’s resignation in 2016, and the trade of Covington and Saric for Butler in 2018. But it’s absolutely defensible to place the beginning of the Process at the moment of Hinkie’s hiring, and the end at whatever time the last players from that era depart. Your mileage may vary on that, as will that of the entirety of the local and national sports media. 

In the meantime, I can absolutely see Joel Embiid, in 15 years, announcing his retirement from basketball, and the local media declaring that No. 21’s retirement marks, at last, the official end of The Process.

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NBA free agency: After bizarre confusion, sign-and-trade with Jimmy Butler and Josh Richardson is a done deal, team source confirms

NBA free agency: After bizarre confusion, sign-and-trade with Jimmy Butler and Josh Richardson is a done deal, team source confirms

Jimmy Butler is headed to Miami and Josh Richardson will join the Sixers. We can now say that sentence with a little more confidence than we could in the early hours of Monday morning.

It's a bizarre story, perhaps even weirder than the December 2018 trade that reportedly fell apart because of confusion regarding whether Dillon Brooks or MarShon Brooks was involved. 

According to the New York Times' Marc Stein, the Mavericks originally thought they were receiving Derrick Jones Jr. and Kelly Olynyk from Miami in a three-team sign-and-trade, with the Sixers getting Richardson and the Heat adding Butler. Sounds simple enough.

However, Stein reports the Heat were not willing to give up Jones and said they needed to include Goran Dragic in the deal for salary-matching purposes. Dragic and Jones are much more difficult names to confuse than Brooks and Brooks.

Miami finally completed the deal late Monday afternoon, a team source confirmed. ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe first reported the new deal, which includes the Clippers and Trail Blazers. Wojnarowski and Lowe report Portland's Maurice Harkless is headed to the Clippers, Miami's Hassan Whiteside is moving to Portland, while Miami is sending a future first-round pick to the Blazers.

The only change of note for the Sixers is that the team is sending 2017 second-round pick Mathias Lessort to Los Angeles, a team source confirmed. The Inquirer's Keith Pompey first reported Lessort's inclusion in the revised deal. A French big man, the 23-year-old Lessort averaged 8.8 points and 5.4 rebounds last season for Unicaja Málaga in Spain's Liga ACB. The prospects of him ever playing for the Sixers seemed very slim.

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NBA free agency 2019 tracker: Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving set to sign with Nets

NBA free agency 2019 tracker: Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving set to sign with Nets

This is one of the biggest offseasons in franchise history for the Sixers. Keep track of all the latest NBA free agency rumors and rumblings right here.

Tuesday, 7:40 p.m. — Jared Dudley is going West 

Tuesday, 6:56 p.m. — Utah will add Jeff Green


Monday, 7:57 p.m. — Golden State to re-sign Kevon Looney


Monday, 4:38 p.m. — Former Sixer Nerlens Noel is staying with the Thunder

Monday, 4:10 p.m. — Wes Matthews moving to Milwaukee 

Monday, 2:17 p.m. — Boston signing big man Enes Kanter

Monday, 12:58 p.m. — Austin Rivers returning to the Rockets

Monday, 12:37 p.m. — Miami and Houston making a deal 

Monday, 12:23 p.m. — Seth Curry to the Mavs

Monday, 3:13 a.m. — Cory Joseph has agreed to a deal with the Kings

Monday, 1:52 a.m. — Reggie Bullock is headed to New York 

Monday, 1:20 a.m. — Patrick Beverley is staying with the Clippers 

Monday, 12:23 a.m. — Jamal Murray will get a max extension 

Sunday, 11:43 p.m. — Robin Lopez will join his brother in Milwauke

Sunday, 11:41 p.m. — Andre Igoudala heading to Memphis

Sunday, 11:23 p.m. — Golden State will acquire D'Angelo Russell in a sign-and-trade 

Sunday, 7:35 p.m. — The Knicks land a free agent in Julius Randle

Sunday, 7:26 p.m. — Former Sixer Nerlens Noel wil return to the Thunder

Sunday, 7:25 p.m. — Veteran forward DeMarre Carroll lands with Spurs

Sunday, 6:42 p.m. — Rodney Hood re-signs with Portland

Sunday, 6:33 p.m. — Ricky Rubio heads to Phoenix

Sunday, 6:19 p.m. — Al-Farouq Aminu is joining the Magic

Sunday, 6:14 p.m. — Veteran wing Trevor Ariza signs with the Kings

Sunday, 6:10 p.m. — Terrence Ross stays with the Magic

Sunday, 6 p.m. — Former Sixer Thaddeus Young to the Bulls

Sunday, 5:42 p.m. — Khris Middleton will return to Bucks

Sunday, 4:52 p.m. — Kevin Durant plans to sign with Brooklyn

And he'll be joined by Kyrie Irving and DeAndre Jordan 

Sunday, 4:32 p.m. — Brook Lopez set to return to Milwaukee 

Sunday, 3:25 p.m. — Kevin Durant to announce his decision Sunday night

And the Nets are reportedly confident he's heading to Brooklyn 

Sunday, 2:35 p.m. — D'Angelo Russell prefers Timberwolves over Lakers

Sunday, 1:49 p.m. — Jonas Valanciunas expected to re-sign with Memphis

Sunday, 1:13 p.m. — There's reportedly "mutual interest" between Al Horford and the Kings. 

However, the Sixers reportedly have "very real interest" in Horford.

Saturday, 8:46 p.m. — The salary cap is set.

Saturday 8:25 p.m. — It sounds like a backup center option for the Sixers could be headed to Sacramento.

Saturday, 6 p.m. — Kyrie Irving expected to sign with the Nets

Saturday, 4:40 p.m. — Kemba Walker plans on signing a 4-year, $141 million deal with Boston

Saturday, 3:51 p.m. — Minnesota Timberwolves to meet with restricted free agent D'Angelo Russell.

Saturday, 12:30 p.m. — Golden State planning to sign Klay Thompson to a 5-year, $190 million max contract.

Saturday, 11:37 a.m. — Kawhi and KD planning to team up?

Friday, 9:25 p.m. — Four teams have a shot at Kevin Durant. 

Friday, 4:53 p.m. — Kawhi Leonard has a meeting set with the Lakers.

Friday, 4:18 p.m. — Orlando is lining up a deal for Nikola Vucevic 

Friday, 3:08 p.m. — Warriors prepared to offer Klay Thompson a max deal

Friday 2:57 p.m. — Rockets have a trade partner for Clint Capela, but only if they get Jimmy Butler

Thursday, 8:47 a.m. — There are "sizable" gaps in talks between Kemba Walker and the Hornets 

And the Celtics are seen as the frontrunners for the All-Star guard

Wednesday, 4:59 p.m. — Marc Gasol staying in Toronto

Wednesday, 3:14 p.m. — Rockets seeking a first-round pick for sign-and-trade for Jimmy Butler

But ...

Wednesday, 11:49 a.m. — As expected, Kevin Durant is hitting the free agent market.

Tuesday, 3:49 p.m. — The Celtics are reportedly expected to make a strong push for Kemba Walker.

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