Sam Hinkie

Sam Hinkie’s 5 best trades as Sixers GM

Sam Hinkie’s 5 best trades as Sixers GM

During his tenure as Sixers general manager, Sam Hinkie was certainly unafraid to make deals.

He constantly sought value on the margins and, as our ranking of his five best trades should remind you, landed big a few times.

5. K.J. McDaniels to the Rockets for Isaiah Canaan and a second-round pick (Richaun Holmes) 
The 27-year-old McDaniels’ last NBA appearance came in 2017. Hinkie made the most of that second-rounder by taking Holmes, who showed flashes of his talent for three seasons in Philadelphia and has flourished with the Kings this year. “Canaan Ball” provided some entertainment and a high volume of three-point attempts during his stint with some bad Sixers teams. Not a dramatic victory for Hinkie, but a win solidified by a savvy second-round pick. 

4. Spencer Hawes to the Cavs for Earl Clark, Henry Sims, two second-round picks (Jerami Grant and Vasilije Micić) 
Again, Hinkie’s second-round successes lift this trade. There was no reason for a team determined to rebuild to hang on to Hawes, a slightly above-average starting center at the time. Like Holmes, Grant showed promise with the Sixers before excelling elsewhere. Micić had a strong EuroLeague season with Anadolu Efes and it’s possible the Serbian guard could be in the picture for the Sixers soon.

3. Elfrid Payton to the Magic for Dario Saric, a 2015 second-round pick (Willy Hernangomez) and a 2018 first-round pick (Landry Shamet) 
It’s also important to note here that Hinkie flipped Hernangomez to the Knicks in exchange for a 2020 second-rounder and 2021 second-rounder. He essentially turned Payton into Saric, Shamet — credit to then-interim GM Brett Brown and company for nailing that pick — and two second-round picks, one of which will be No. 36 in this year’s draft. With all due respect to Payton, that return far exceeds his talent. 

2. Cenk Anyol and cash to the Denver Nuggets for JaVale McGee, Chukwudiebere Maduabum and a first-round pick (Furkan Korkmaz) 
Anyol is 33 years old and has not played a minute in the NBA. Korkmaz (a Bryan Colangelo selection) leads the Sixers in made three-pointers this season. Even if that pick never amounted to much, securing a first-rounder in exchange for a non-NBA player is tremendous. Denver was clearly desperate to get rid of McGee’s contract. 

1. Luka Mitrović, Artūras Gudaitis and a 2017 first-round pick (De’Aaron Fox) to the Sacramento Kings for Carl Landry, Nik Stauskas, Jason Thompson, the right to swap picks in 2016 and 2017 and a 2019 first-round pick (Later traded — Celtics took Romeo Langford) 
To simplify this trade: The Sixers moved up from No. 5 to No. 3 in the 2017 draft and took the No. 14 pick in 2019, giving up two players who have yet to play in the NBA. Unfortunately for them, the Markelle Fultz trade with Boston squandered much of the return, but it’s worth appreciating in isolation. The deal still has to be considered one of the best in Sixers history

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Sam Hinkie's 5 best draft picks as Sixers GM

Sam Hinkie's 5 best draft picks as Sixers GM

Former Sixers GM Sam Hinkie is as divisive a figure in Philly sports as you’ll find. There’s a portion of the fan base that reveres him as a deity. Another portion thought he was running a Ponzi scheme.

No matter where you come out on the argument, there’s no debating that Hinkie always made draft night interesting.

Let's look back on the five best draft picks from Hinkie’s tenure as Sixers GM:

5. Michael Carter-Williams (11th overall, 2013)
Carter-Williams looked like a steal after the point guard out of Syracuse won Rookie of the Year by averaging 16.7 points, 6.3 assists, 6.2 rebounds and 1.9 steals a game. You have to give Hinkie credit for having the foresight to recognize when to move on. Most Sixers fans weren’t thrilled with the idea of trading a guy they viewed as a young, exciting player.

Hinkie saw Carter-William's limitations and got a hell of an asset for him — a first-rounder which would ultimately become the 10th overall pick in 2018. You could certainly make the argument that that asset was misused by his successors, but Hinkie did quite well to make this pick and then move on from Carter-Williams at the peak of his value.

4. Richaun Holmes (37th overall, 2015)
Hinkie had an affinity for second-round picks, seeming to acquire an endless amount. It’s a tradition the Sixers have carried on since he left. Though instead of selling them like the team has done in recent years, Hinkie used them well.

Holmes was drafted out of Bowling Green. Though he had his defensive lapses, he was a good screener and dynamic roller and an outstanding weakside shot blocker. He always brought energy as a reserve big and had guady numbers per 36 minutes — 15.8 points, nine rebounds, 1.7 blocks — as a Sixer. After three seasons here and one with the Suns, Holmes seems to have found a nice fit with the Kings.

As for Hinkie, finding a serviceable NBA big at No. 37 is strong value.

3. Jerami Grant (39th overall, 2014)
Another well-executed second-rounder by Hinkie. Grant, taken after one season at Syracuse, wasn’t even the Sixers’ first selection of the second round. The team took high-flying K.J. McDaniels out of Clemson.

While McDaniels played just three seasons and hasn’t been in the NBA since 2017, Grant has become the ideal role player for the modern game. Grant is switchable defensively, is an excellent off-ball shot blocker and has become an above-average three-point shooter (39.6 percent the last two seasons). Grant was traded to the Thunder for Ersan Ilyasova and a first-round pick just two games into his third season.

While Ilyasova helped the Sixers and that first-rounder has been on quite a journey, Grant would be a nice player to have right now.

2. Dario Saric (12th overall, 2014)
Saric wasn’t technically a Hinkie pick, but it’s clear that the GM had his eyes on the Croatian. Hinkie took Elfrid Payton 10th overall, knowing that the Magic wanted the point guard from Louisiana-Lafayette. So not only was Hinkie able to acquire Saric, but he also reclaimed the first-round pick that was traded for Andrew Bynum and picked up an additional second-rounder.

Saric’s first two seasons with the Sixers were strong, including an excellent playoff run in 2018 where he averaged 17.2 points, 7.3 rebounds and 3.5 assists. Saric didn’t look like the same player to start the 2018-19 season and was a part of the Jimmy Butler deal. He may never deliver on the promise he showed at the start of his career, but still, a strong "selection" by Hinkie.

1. Joel Embiid (third overall, 2014)
What even needs to be said? Not all of Hinkie’s lottery pick were hits, but this was an enormous one. Sure, Embiid slipped to third overall because of injury concern, but it still took guts from Hinkie to make the selection — and the center from Cameroon has rewarded that decision time and time again.

Embiid is a three-time All-Star and has twice earned All-Defensive Team and All-NBA honors. Barring injury, his career is on an extremely special trajectory.

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Andre Iguodala's moment, the Andrew Bynum trade and the brink of the Process

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Andre Iguodala's moment, the Andrew Bynum trade and the brink of the Process

On May 10, 2012, Andre Iguodala hopped onto the scorer’s table at Wells Fargo Center, celebrating the Sixers’ dramatic Game 6 win in the first round over the Bulls, the franchise’s first playoff series victory since 2003. 

Three months later, he was a Denver Nugget.

Game 6, which will re-air Wednesday night on NBC Sports Philadelphia, is memorable on its own, a low-scoring thriller. The Sixers’ season ended with a Game 7 loss in Boston, the conclusion of a series later featured in Uncut Gems. Adam Sandler’s character, a desperate jeweler/gambler named Howard Ratner, encourages Kevin Garnett to “step on Elton Brand’s f---ing neck.” 

There aren’t yet any movies that we know of about the trade that sent Iguodala to the Nuggets and brought Andrew Bynum to Philadelphia, but it’s a deal that invites re-examination. In the four-team, 12-player trade, the Sixers received Bynum and Jason Richardson, and they gave up Iguodala, Moe Harkless, Nikola Vucevic and a protected first-round pick.

The clearest takeaway from the trade is that the impact was, on the surface, borderline disastrous. Bynum never played a game with the Sixers because of injuries, including a bowling-induced setback. Richardson only played in 52 games. Harkless, now in his eighth season, is a solid NBA player. Vucevic was an All-Star last season with the Magic and has averaged 17 points and 10.7 rebounds since leaving the Sixers. Iguodala won three championships with the Warriors and earned a Finals MVP award. 

The trade’s failure also expedited the beginning of “The Process.” With Bynum out, Spencer Hawes and Lavoy Allen started at center. Kwame Brown even started 11 games in his final NBA season. The team finished 34-48 and missed the playoffs, and Doug Collins resigned as head coach. Sam Hinkie took over in May, trading Jrue Holiday on draft night in exchange for Nerlens Noel and the Pelicans’ 2014 first-round pick. He hired Brett Brown in August. 

If the Sixers had never traded for Bynum, they likely would have been a playoff team in the 2012-13 season, even after Lou Williams — their leading scorer in 2011-12 — signed with the Hawks. Iguodala was coming off an All-Star year, while a rookie Harkless would presumably have had a good shot at taking minutes from players like Dorell Wright and Nick Young. Collins removed Vucevic from his rotation in the playoffs the year prior, but it seems very possible his opinion of the big man would have shifted.

“How many teams can give up Andre Iguodala, Moe Harkless and Nik Vucevic and have nothing in returning playing?,” Collins asked after a February loss to Orlando. “That’s tough to overcome, right? That’s just the facts. … Nik Vucevic had 19 rebounds tonight. Spencer had one. I think Lavoy had two.”

Allen had four rebounds that night, but that’s obviously besides the point. 

Collins would have been coaching a team with hopes of making a run. Though the Sixers had been fortunate in that first-round series against Chicago the year before, with the Bulls suffering injuries to Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah, their aspirations wouldn’t have been entirely delusional. Any notion of winning the Eastern Conference or pushing for an NBA title would have been absurd — the Sixers weren’t going to win a series against LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and the Heat. But, at a bare minimum, they would have been a step or two above mediocre. They could’ve easily convinced themselves it wasn’t necessary to do anything drastic, that they were on the right track.

The team traded for Bynum instead, and Hinkie came in unconcerned with immediate, conventional respectability. He accumulated assets, played the odds and gave himself chances to select players like Joel Embiid. His approach turned off many fans who didn’t enjoy watching fringe NBA players set historic losing streaks. 

Without the Bynum trade, the Sixers probably never would have considered that path, and they likely would have stayed the course on a different, more traditional process built around Igoudala, Holiday and Vucevic. It would've been so much easier to justify hovering a couple of rungs below title contention, remembering that night Iguodala leaped on the table and hoping it wasn't a fluke. 

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