Sam Hinkie using his past to plan Sixers' future


Sam Hinkie using his past to plan Sixers' future

The Sixers' president and general manger is an understated gentleman. If Sam Hinkie had his way, he would not be seen or heard. He would just do his job and hopefully be acknowledged for doing it well.

So far, so good for the first-year Sixers exec.

Wednesday night, Hinkie’s former employer, the Houston Rockets, were in town and just as Brett Brown had talked about being mentored by Gregg Popovich a couple days earlier (when the Spurs visited the Wells Fargo Center), so too did Hinkie share thoughts of Daryl Morey, the Rockets’ general manager and Hinkie’s longtime mentor.

“I was in Houston for a year before Daryl came and [Morey] was a godsend for someone like me,” Hinkie said. “He thought the way I think. He did things in a similar way. I feel fortunate to have the time I did to work with him.”

The Sixers' win over the Rockets turned out to be an entertaining affair for 53 minutes of action. Yes, James Harden and Michael Carter-Williams were out with foot injuries.

However, the Sixers' absence of MCW allowed other players to shine, namely James Anderson, who scored a career-high 36 points. Tony Wroten also recorded a triple-double in his first ever NBA start.

Brett Brown’s team improved to 5-4 on the season -- a record no one saw coming, including the architect of the roster.

“I think a lot of the elements that we have seen already the city likes and that is that we are going to get up and down and play aggressively,” Hinkie said. “We are going to spread the floor and not be shy about letting it go and we are going to play both ends. We may not always play it with great success. We put pressure on people and we are an aggressive, attacking team.

“The league is a marathon,” Hinkie stressed. “We have a long way to go in this season and a long way to go to build the kind of thing we want to build, but it will take those elements for us to get where we want to go.”

Where the franchise wants to go is being a championship contender. They believe Carter-Williams and Nerlens Noel are cornerstones to making that happen.

Carter-Williams did not play Wednesday, but the rookie point guard’s play has opened plenty of eyes around the league in his previous eight outings.

“He has made some real positive strides early, which has been good,” Hinkie said of Carter-Williams. “I think that is good for him because he is a naturally confident guy. He is a competitive guy and a gamer, and it is good to see him reap some of the rewards of hard work in the summer and training camp.”

Carter-Williams is averaging 17.4 points, 5.4 rebounds and 7.6 assists a game. But, if not for the stabilizing force around him, he may have felt the need to shoulder the burden for the rebuilding franchise.

“All of our vets have been great and really bought in to what coach is doing fitness-wise and work ethic-wise and player development,” Hinkie said. “I think they like the new system, and I think all of them would say they are in the best shape of their life and they have been given a lot of freedom and a lot of new opportunity. I feel like all of them have grasped it in a way, and we are proud of them.”

Best of NBA: Cavs roll after getting rings; Warriors blown out

Best of NBA: Cavs roll after getting rings; Warriors blown out

CLEVELAND -- LeBron James had his 43rd career triple-double, Kyrie Irving scored 29 points and the Cleveland Cavaliers, who raised their championship banner before the game, beat the New York Knicks 117-88 on Tuesday night in the NBA season opener.

James scored 19 points and added 11 rebounds and 14 assists in front of a raucous home crowd that was on its feet from the pregame ceremony until late in the game, celebrating the city's first championship in 52 years.

James, who spoke to the crowd before the game, continued his perfect record on ring nights. He was 2-0 when the Miami Heat players were presented with their championship rings.

Irving scored 19 points in the third quarter, when Cleveland used a 20-4 run to take a 74-53 lead. Kevin Love scored 23 for the Cavaliers.

Carmelo Anthony led New York with 19 points and Derrick Rose had 17 (see full recap).

Leonard, Spurs blow out Warriors in Durant's debut
OAKLAND, Calif. -- Kawhi Leonard scored a career-high 35 points and the San Antonio Spurs emphatically spoiled Kevin Durant's long-awaited Warriors debut Tuesday with a 129-100 rout that sent Golden State fans for the exits early on opening night.

Durant had 27 points and 10 rebounds, but little looked in sync for MVP Stephen Curry and the reigning Western Conference champions in a forgettable first game -- and quite a different one after the Warriors dominated at home and came out of the blocks last season with a record 24-0 start.

Leonard scored 31 points by the end of the third, LaMarcus Aldridge added 26 points and 14 rebounds and Gregg Popovich thoroughly outdid a couple of his close friends on the opposite bench in reigning NBA Coach of the Year Steve Kerr and top assistant Mike Brown (see full recap).

Yes, San Antonio sent quite a message to the West.

Blazers win 16th straight home opener
PORTLAND, Ore. -- Damian Lillard scored 39 points and the Portland Trail Blazers extended their winning streak in home openers to a league-record 16 straight games with a 113-104 victory over the Utah Jazz on Tuesday night.

CJ McCollum added 25 points for the Blazers, who trailed 83-77 at the start of the fourth quarter. They were still down 102-99 with under 5 minutes left before McCollum made a pull-up jumper and 3-pointer to give Portland a 104-102 lead.

Lillard made a pair of free throws before nailing a 3-pointer that put Portland up 109-102 with 1:02 left and the Jazz couldn't catch up.

Joe Johnson scored 29 points in his debut with the Jazz and Rodney Hood added 26, including a rim-rattling dunk in the third quarter (see full recap).

Nerlens Noel undergoes surgery on sore left knee

Nerlens Noel undergoes surgery on sore left knee

Nerlens Noel has had surgery on his sore left knee, and the Sixers have not disclosed a timetable for the disgruntled center's return.

Noel has been out since the team's first preseason game. He initially had a left groin strain before experiencing soreness in the knee during rehab, and it was discovered he had an inflamed plica. 

The team is calling the surgery a "minor elective arthroscopic procedure." It was performed in New York by Dr. Riley J. Williams at the Hospital for Special Surgery.

Noel eventually will travel to Birmingham, Ala. to rehab with associate clinical director Kevin Wilk at Champion Sports Medicine.

The Sixers expect to have a timetable for his return once Noel returns to Philadelphia. According to Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer, Noel is expected to miss three to five weeks. 

This has been a rough preseason for Noel, who hasn't hidden his displeasure with his role on the Sixers' jammed frontcourt. The team has until Oct. 31 to extend his rookie contract but, per a report in the Inquirer earlier this month, the two sides have yet to discuss it.