Sam Hinkie using his past to plan Sixers' future

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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 quotes from Sixers 2016 media day

Best quotes from Sixers 2016 media day

CAMDEN, N.J. — Sixers president Bryan Colangelo and all 20 players on the team's training camp roster spoke at the organization's new state-of-the-art training complex during media day.

Here are some of the best quotes from Monday's session:

Colangelo on rebuilding process being like building new training complex
"This is the start of a new season, a new moment for the franchise. We've talked a lot about the growth and building process. We're looking forward, not back. A lot of this reminds me of, it's not dissimilar to a construction site on a skyscraper or a real estate project. There's been a lot of work being done to the infrastructure here for several months and in this case several years. We're on the verge of establishing things above grade, things that hopefully move this organization forward. We're looking ahead with a lot of excitement and a lot of anticipation on where it might go."

Elton Brand on competition among the big men
"I expect a bloodbath. I expect a battle. These guys are big, they're talented and they all have different skill sets. They are good. They can really play. Joel [Embiid] being healthy,[Jahlil Okafor], of course Nerlens [Noel] and Dario [Saric]. That's the fives. Then the fours, the number one pick, he's going to play. Jerami Grant took a leap. It's a lot of talent, so it's going to be fun to watch and be a part of."

Embiid on watching so much live and taped basketball while injured
"I've learned a lot. I'm really someone who loves watching basketball, who loves learning. To this day I still watch my college stuff because I love watching myself. I'll watch myself probably every day. Then I watch some of the other guys. I watch everybody's game. I just love being around basketball and watching games. NBA games or college games. Obviously NBA games are different than college. I can't really watch college basketball anymore because it just drives me crazy."

Okafor on whether his eyes light up when a guard switches onto him
"My eyes always light up no matter who's guarding me. I feel like I can do whatever I want. No matter if the person is smaller or bigger, it doesn't matter to me."

Ben Simmons on being considered a leader even though he's a rookie
"Definitely. I believe I'm a leader no matter what it is. Whether I'm playing Scrabble, Monopoly, Pictionary, whatever the game is. I try to lead whenever the occasion arises."

Brand on being in shape to play
"The offseason, I don't go on the basketball court as much as I did when I knew I'd be on a roster or trying to be on a roster. I just try to stay in cool dad shape. Riding my bike. I want my clothes to fit. I don't want to be like some NBA players that retire and play a long time and don't look as good. I was just working on riding my bike, jogging, swimming and then I'll hit the court."

Sergio Rodriguez on coming back to the NBA after a six-year absence
"It's been 10 years [since my NBA debut]. I've changed many things in my basketball skills. Also personal, the way that I act now, the way that I treat my body now. The way that I think is way different than it was when I first came into the league. For me it's a big challenge to come here at 30 years old and try to get an opportunity with the Sixers."

T.J. McConnell on letting Gerald Henderson have his No. 12 jersey
"I got a text from Scott Rego our equipment guy saying that Gerald's dad wore 12 when he played here and he would like to do the same and would I be willing to give up the number. So I just gave it up and I think one was the only other point-guard-looking number so I just took it. Nothing was added to the McConnell fund. All I got was a firm handshake, that's about it."

Elton Brand on national anthem protests: Sixers working with NBA, having 'discussions internally'

Elton Brand on national anthem protests: Sixers working with NBA, having 'discussions internally'

CAMDEN, N.J. — Pockets of NBA players have increasingly started to speak up about what they believe to be racial and social injustices taking place in the United States.

With San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick's decision to kneel during the national anthem sparking protests from other players around the NFL and various sports, now the NBA as a whole is preparing for potential protests prior to games.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver and National Basketball Players Association union executive director Michele Roberts came together last week to formulate a joint letter to players to express how the two sides plan to take "meaningful action."

Whatever that action is, Sixers veteran Elton Brand is all for it and the overall discussion of issues going on around the country.

"There are e-mails and direct texts from the NBPA. We’re working with the NBA. They’re going to talk to us soon,” Brand said. “My thing is if you want to stand up for something, that’s a good thing. Especially in America, the tensions and the injustices that are going on right now. 

“Even in our locker room we’re discussing who feels like this, who feels like what and ways that we can display how we feel about things. I’m all for it. I stand behind it and stand with other athletes and people that want to stand for a cause. Whatever their cause is, they want to stand for a cause. Our cause may be different.”

The NBA is significantly more diverse than the NFL, and Brand even admitted it’s been an eye-opening experience having talks about issues affecting African Americans inside a locker room with players from around the globe.

“We have a lot of international players,” he said. “I’m looking around the room and there are seven people that aren’t from this country. So you talk about the flag, talk about the constitution and to them it’s like, ‘I represent America because I’m working here, but I’m pro-Spain and I have problems there, too.’ We’re all sorting it out. We’ve had discussions internally also. I’m looking forward to what the NBPA and the NBA have to offer."

What the league and players association come up with will likely serve as something other than protesting during the actual anthem. Unlike the NFL, the NBA has a rule in place that explicitly states players, coaches and trainers must stand on the foul line or sidelines in a dignified posture during the playing of national anthems.

If Sixers players do ultimately decide on some sort of protest before games, they will have the support of the organization to express their rights.

"We haven't been together collectively long enough to have a real robust discussion about it," Sixers president Bryan Colangelo said. "I think we just addressed it briefly this morning with the players in an opportunity to say the following. Basically, we as an organization are going to be supportive of the views of our players. As the league and the players association formulate perhaps an approach, they've already circulated some information to teams. Things are probably still at the discussion phase. I hope to think that's where things are with our players, that they're still at the discussion phase. 

"Once again, I'm assuming that there will be a desire to express an opinion or viewpoint. I've always been supportive of people in society having freedom to express a viewpoint. Again, going back to the league and the players association, in a positive way I think they've always been out in front of some of these social issues and if they can affect social change in a positive way they probably will. You can just anticipate that there's still some unknowns to this, but you can estimate that we will be supportive as an organization as to how our players want to express their views."