The Sixers' Hinkification Has Commenced: What Does it Mean for the Rest of the Roster?

The Sixers' Hinkification Has Commenced: What Does it Mean for the Rest of the Roster?

So the Sam Hinkie era has begun, and as the filmmakers behind Executive Decision did by killing off Steven Seagal in the first hour, our new General Manager has upped the stakes for the 2013-14 Sixers by making his first move the dismissal of the Sixers' own biggest-name and most likeable character, Jrue Holiday. Now, we know that the rebuild is officially on, and anyone on the Liberty Ballers' roster currently looking to purchase real estate in the greater Philadelphia area would be well-advised to reconsider. No one is safe from the Hinkification.

However, just because everyone can be traded, doesn't mean that everyone will--not definitely, anyway. Here's a quick look at the Sixers' remaining roster, and how I see it being impacted by Hinkie's likely "Red Wedding"-esque house cleaning.

  • Nick Young, Royal Ivey, Damien Wilkins. Gone, gone, gone. No chance any of these guys gets to re-up with a Hinkie-led Sixers, and in fact, Young's #1 jersey was just bequeathed to recent Sixers draftee Michael Carter-Williams. Thanks for your service, guys, best of luck at your next destinations, don't forget there's a $25 fine for anyone who forgets to scrub down their lockers before leaving.
  • Dorell Wright. Departure is slightly less definite than our three other mid-level free agents, since as a statistically sound threes-and-defense guy, he fits the Hinkie mold pretty well. But he's also gonna be 28 years old next season, might command as much as $5 or $6 million a year (and for as long as three to four years), and is not likely to be a contributor on the next half-good Sixers team. He'll be happier on a winner anyway.
  • Evan Turner. Gonezo at the first possible opportunity. Rumor has it ET was being shopped for a late first-rounder last night, but no takers were found--not a great sign for the stock of a guy who was the #2 overall pick just three drafts ago. He'll be of little use to us this year, and he'll cost far more in free agency than Hinkie is probably willing to spend. Sam's probably scouring the CBA right now trying to find a way to un-pick-up the Extraterrestrial's option from this year. Maybe he'll let Evan be featured a bit at the beginning of the year and hope to capitalize on the inevitable three-to-four-week stretch that his jumper actually falls, but if the Villain was still here at the end of the season, I'd be pretty shocked.
  • Spencer Hawes. Like Evan, basically just waiting to be dealt at this point. Ideally, Hinkie would be able to package the two for expirings and a draft pick, or something to that effect, though its unlikely the stock of either player will be high enough to get back much of value. More likely, I'd say he keeps Hawes until the trade deadline, then attempts to deal him to a team in need of size for a playoff push--hopefully impressed enough with his shooting and passing ability to ignore his obvious glaring defensive deficiencies.
  • Lavoy Allen and Kwame Brown. Neither of our back-up centers make enough per year to necessitate their being moved, and neither of them are valuable enough to be dealt for in any capacity. It's possible one or both will be included in a larger deal as cap fodder, but somebody's gonna have to help fill out 48 minutes at the pivot this season, and as long as we're not trying to actually win games, it might as well be some combination of Hawes and these guys.
  • Jason Richardson. Will surely be moved if asked for, but is unlikely to draw much interest. He's 32, still has two years and about $13 million to go on his contract, is still recovering from knee surgery, and hasn't been a starter-caliber player in a couple years now. We'd need to package other assets with J-Rich's deal to get him moved, and the Sixers aren't desperate enough to shed salary in the short-term to make that worth doing. There's about a 15% chance he could come back for a few months, hit a couple shots for the Sixers and be taken on by a contending team looking for a floor-spacer, but far more likely, I'd say he plays out the string on the Sixers' bench.
  • Arnett Moultrie. Moultrie is the one guy it's hard to evaluate from Hinkie's perspective. In theory he fits the young/athletic/upside mold that our new GM seems to favor with the team's rebuild--with a cheap contract, and under team control for a number of years to come--and in limited minutes last year he showed flashes of being that kind of player, so it's possible Hinkie could see Moultrie as something of a building block. On the other hand, he wasn't part of the team that controversially decided to give up a future first-round pick for him, so if Moultrie gets some minutes next season and doesn't produce, he won't be supremely motivated to keep the young power forward around. I'd say he likely plays out the season, but if he becomes a legit trade chip, Hinkie dealing him for other future assets wouldn't be shocking.
  • Thaddeus Young. Thad is the player I'm most interested to see what Hinkie does with. On the surface, it's easy to say that since Jrue was dealt, Thad (as the longest-tenured Sixer) must surely be next to go, but I'm not so convinced. For one thing, he fits the sort of athletic, defensive-minded running team Hinkie seems to be in the midst of designing, and for another, his stats translate much better to the kind of advanced analysis Hinkie seems to be a proponent of than Jrue's, leading the team in PER and Win Shares. And finally, there is such a thing as a salary floor--a minimum level of contract cash an NBA team has to give out per year, which should be over $50 mil next year. If the team sheds Thad's AND Jrue's salary before season's start, they'd have to make all sorts of other signings that they probably don't want to make just to get over that.
    Not to say that Thad is untouchable--I'm sure for the right price he can still definitely be had, but just that Hinkie won't deal him just for the sake of doing so. He could still be a valuable contributor on this team in a few years, and he'll likely still be tradeable at any point over the course of his deal, so there's no real urgency to be rid of him. Don't worry, the team will still be plenty bad next year, even with Thad in tow.
  • Andrew Bynum. Certainly, the indications would appear to be that this is it for Andrew Bynum's time with the 76ers. Respected NBA reporter Marc Stein quotes an inside source saying the acquisition of Noel "absolutely" means the end of Bynum with the Sixers, and it clearly doesn't look like the Sixers are going to be making many moves in free agency to put their team more in a position to win games next year, when clearly the long game here is to pick up one or two major pieces in next year's stacked draft. As hard as it is to swallow that the Sixers gave up Andre Iguodala, Maurice Harkless, Nikola Vucevic and a future #1 for three years of paying Jason Richardson's rotting corpse, it appears we're going to have to do just that. Live and learn, we suppose, and find the strength to bowl another day.

NHL Playoffs: Vernon Fiddler provides big lift as Predators take 1-0 series lead on Blues

NHL Playoffs: Vernon Fiddler provides big lift as Predators take 1-0 series lead on Blues

ST. LOUIS -- One nifty little flip by Vernon Fiddler provided a big lift for the Nashville Predators on a rough night.

Fiddler scored with 5:05 left and P.K. Subban had a goal and two assists, powering Nashville to a 4-3 victory over the St. Louis Blues in Game 1 of their second-round playoff series on Wednesday.

The Predators lost Kevin Fiala to an ugly leg injury in the second period and blew a 3-1 lead before Fiddler poked a loose puck by Jake Allen in the third.

"They had a little push there," Fiddler said. "We got 3-2 and then 3-3 and the building's rocking. You have to give our guys credit. We just regrouped and went back at them and found a way to get the two points."

It was the fifth goal in 43 career playoff games for the 36-year-old Fiddler, who did not play in the Predators' first-round series sweep against the Blackhawks.

"He's a veteran guy so he's been in these situations before and he stepped up and got us a big goal," Subban said. "That was the toughest game of the season for us and they fought so hard and had so many chances, but we found a way to get it done."

Colin Wilson and Filip Forsberg also scored for Nashville, and Pekka Rinne made 27 saves.

Game 2 is Friday night (see full recap).

Draisaitl leads Oilers to Game 1 win over Ducks
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Adam Larsson scored his second goal of the third period with 4:40 to play, and the Edmonton Oilers blew a two-goal lead in a wild third period before beating the Anaheim Ducks 5-3 on Wednesday night in their second-round playoff series opener.

Mark Letestu scored two power-play goals and Cam Talbot made 33 saves for the upstart Oilers, who seized home-ice advantage from the Ducks with a four-goal final period.

Jakob Silfverberg scored the tying goal with 9:13 to play in regulation for the Ducks, who lost in regulation for the first time in 19 games since March 10.

Larsson scored just four goals in his first 85 games this season, but the Swedish defenseman improbably got two goals in 7 1/2 minutes.

Game 2 is Friday night in Anaheim (see full recap).

Phillies push win streak to 5 behind continued growth from Maikel Franco, Vince Velasquez

Phillies push win streak to 5 behind continued growth from Maikel Franco, Vince Velasquez

 

BOX SCORE

This is what the Phillies could look like some day, maybe in a year or two, when the rebuild has moved further down the road and the club is approaching contender's status.

Maikel Franco clubbed three hits, including a grand slam, and Vince Velasquez pitched his best game of the young season to lead the Phillies to a 7-4 victory over the Miami Marlins at Citizens Bank Park on Wednesday night (see Instant Replay).

The win was the Phillies' fifth straight as they inched over the .500 mark at 10-9 and it offered a glimpse of the tantalizing tools of two of the team's most enigmatic young players — Franco and Velasquez. Both players are 24 years old. Both have had individual highs and lows in a Phillies uniform. Both have the ability to be cornerstone talents for the franchise — if they can put together more nights like this one.

"It's a long season and it doesn't happen overnight," said manager Pete Mackanin, acknowledging the ups and downs that each player has had in the early part of this season and before.

It was just last week that Franco was riding a career-worst 0-for-22 slump that dragged his batting average to .145.

On Wednesday night, he stroked three hits — he had two hard-hit singles to go with his grand slam — to push his average to .203, not good but moving in the right direction.

Even as he struggled, Franco continued to hit balls hard and produce runs. He now has 20 RBIs, which is just one shy of the NL leaders. He also has four homers, including two grand slams.

It's no secret that new hitting coach Matt Stairs is trying to get Franco to stop pulling off the ball. From Day 1 of spring training, Stairs has had Franco working on driving the ball to the middle of the field. That's just what Franco did three times Wednesday night. His first hit, a single to center in the second inning, set the tone for his night. His grand slam came on a 2-2 fastball from lefty Wei-Yin Chen in the third inning.

"That was Matt Stairs' big rallying cry for Maikel — try to use the big part of the field and not pull everything," Mackanin said. "He still has it in him where he'll pull his head off the ball, but I think with his type of power, he can hit a ball to center field or right field out of the ballpark. Once that sinks in, he's really going to take off. He's starting to look a lot better." 

Two pitches before Franco lined the grand slam over the wall in left center, he lost his helmet while hacking at a slow breaking ball. It was the type of out-of-control swing that Stairs is trying to eliminate. Two pitches later, Franco gathered himself and hit the grand slam with a smooth swing.

That was progress.

And so is this: He's only lost his helmet on a swing one time this season.

"At the time, I just told myself, 'Calm down, relax, don't try to do too much. Just see the ball and put good contact on it,'" Franco said.

"I think last year I lost my helmet like 20 or 25 times," he added with a chuckle. "I'm working on it."

Velasquez is also working on things. He is trying to harness his power stuff and improve his economy of pitches so he can stay in games longer. He'd lasted just four, five and six innings, respectively, while running high pitch counts in his first three starts. He made some improvements in his last outing at New York last week and took another step forward in this one. He pitched 6 1/3 innings, scattered six hits and three runs, walked two and struck out three. The strikeout total was way down from the 10 he struck out in four innings in his first start of the season. But Mackanin was pleased with the results and the improved efficiency. Velasquez threw 97 pitches, 68 of which were strikes. He threw first-pitch strikes to 19 of 26 batters and that was important to his success.

"Even though he's not striking people out like we know he can and will, he's using all of his pitches and he got us into that seventh inning, which was huge," Mackanin said. "I think he's trying to pitch to more contact and not trying to make perfect pitches and strike everybody out with perfect pitches.

"I think once he puts that all together, he'll have that total ensemble working for him and know when to pitch soft and when to throw hard. He's making good improvements."

And so are the Phillies as a group. They hit three home runs in the game and the bullpen did an excellent job, especially Joely Rodriguez and Joaquin Benoit, who combined on five outs (see story)

Five straight wins is nothing to sneeze at. The Phillies have suddenly become fun. They go for a sixth straight win Thursday.