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.

Sixers teased in preseason finale with Jahlil Okafor back, Nerlens Noel out

Sixers teased in preseason finale with Jahlil Okafor back, Nerlens Noel out


MIAMI — Jahlil Okafor called it a “tease.”

He was talking about his oh-so-brief 2016-2017 debut, but he could have also been summarizing the Sixers' constant state of taking one step forward and one (injured) leg back.

Okafor, a 6-11 center and the NBA’s third overall pick in the 2015 draft, played 7:32 minutes on Friday and produced four points, one rebound, one assist, one block and one turnover. He had been held out in camp previously because of knee soreness.

His return was the good news for the Sixers.

But before Friday’s 113-110 exhibition finale win over the Miami Heat even started (see Instant Replay), the Sixers announced that center/forward Nerlens Noel will have a “minor surgical procedure in the coming days” on his injured left knee (see story).

Sixers center Joel Embiid, who has missed the past two years because of foot surgeries, empathizes with Noel.

“It’s hard,” Embiid said. “Obviously we need Nerlens if we want to win. But that’s basketball. Things happen. You can’t control injuries.

“I feel bad for him because this is the beginning of the season. Everybody wants to play the beginning of the season. But I’m sure he is going to work hard to come back even stronger.”

On the positive side for the Sixers, there was the return of Okafor … even it felt like baby steps for him.

“I started to feel really good,” said Okafor, who had surgery on his right knee in March and experienced soreness on that same knee Sept. 30. “It was kind of like a tease to me because I really got going. I wanted to continue to play, but that’s why I have the medical staff to keep me disciplined.”

Sixers coach Brett Brown said before the game that he would keep Okafor to just six to eight minutes, and he was true to his word.

Okafor, who made the only shot he attempted from the floor and was 2 for 4 on free throws, did not play in the second half.

“The scoring piece to my game, that’s like riding a bicycle,” Okafor said. “I know I can score the ball. It was good to get back out there with my teammates and hear them cheer for me on the side.”

Okafor said he tried to convince Brown to let him extend past the script of no more than eight minutes.

“He was like, ‘Have your lawyer call my lawyer,'" Okafor said. “We will talk about the season home opener (on Wednesday night against Oklahoma City), and hopefully I can increase my minutes.”

Okafor said he didn’t want to put a number on how many minutes he thought he could’ve played in his season debut except to say he knew he could play more.

Interestingly, Embiid, who had 18 points and nine rebounds in 18 minutes, said he felt Okafor was a bit fatigued.

“I think he was a little bit tired,” Embiid said. “Obviously, he hasn’t played in a while. But just like me, he’s going to dig down. He is a proven scorer. He can do whatever he wants on the court.

“Once he gets back in shape, we as a team are going to be really good.”

Okafor was a minus-5 while he was on the court. But Brown said he was impressed by some of the less-hyped aspects of Okafor’s game.

“I thought he was really good defensively,” Brown said. “He sat in his stance and moved his feet. I thought he did a great job of fronting the post.”

Brown said the Noel injury was almost unfair.

“Clearly, it was a situation in the preseason where he would have played a lot,” Brown said. “The timing is unfortunate.”

Temple runs past South Florida, claims sole possession of AAC East

USA Today Images

Temple runs past South Florida, claims sole possession of AAC East

Temple didn’t mince words about its early setbacks in 2016.

The Owls were “hurt” after their season-opening loss to Army. They were “angry” after dropping a rivalry game to Penn State. They stressed a need to “finish” following a blown lead to Memphis.

All of that heartbreak went into making the Owls what they are today: leaders in the American Athletic Conference East Division.

Temple turned the tables on run-oriented South Florida to gash the Bulls for 319 rushing yards (210 coming from Ryquell Armstead) in a 46-30 win on Friday night at Lincoln Financial Field (instant replay)

The victory helped the Owls (5-3, 3-1 AAC) avenge last season’s blowout and, more importantly, move into a first-place tie in the conference’s East Division. With back-to-back wins over South Florida and Central Florida, Temple now holds tiebreakers over its two closest competitors in the East.

“Last year’s success we had as a team was built on the years we went 2-10 and 6-6,” head coach Matt Rhule said. “It might sound corny to you guys, but you lose games and you learn all these lessons and you learn how to win. 

“Toward the end of last year, you have some success. It doesn’t end the way you wanted it to. You come back this year, all those losses we had or the certain losses we had, we hated them but the kids did a good job of trying to learn from them.”

Temple showed just how much it learned from all of those tough lessons on Friday night. After getting shredded by the South Florida (6-2, 3-1 AAC) dynamic duo of quarterback Quinton Flowers and tailback Marlon Mack a season ago, TU opted to get its own ground game going in this one to help control both sides of the ball.

It worked to perfection early with Temple scoring on three of its first four possessions, including a 15-play drive that was capped off by a one-yard touchdown catch by tight end Colin Thompson and a 76-yard TD run by Armstead. 

Even later in the game when the Bulls used a quick three-play, 84-yard drive to take a 23-20 lead, the Owls didn’t panic like in past instances. They responded with a three-play drive of their own as Armstead broke free through the right edge for a 42-yard touchdown rumble.

A blocked punt on the ensuing possession provided excellent field position for the Owls, who only needed another two plays for Jahad Thomas to punch it into the end zone from nine yards out for a double-digit lead.

“Just powering guys in the first and second quarter. Just coming in and head-hunting, basically, not shying from contact,” Armstead said of his mindset in the run game. “By the end of the third and fourth quarter, they don’t want to tackle me. It’s just opening up.”

“Our big thing is just finishing the game as best we can,” fullback Nick Sharga said. “I think really just wearing teams down by running the ball toward the end of the game helps our offense out, so we take pride in it.”

The primetime effort was something the Owls’ offense as a whole could take pride in. Temple racked up 528 total yards, 26 first downs, dominated time of possession 39:07 to 20:53 and didn’t commit a turnover.

“There’s a way to win every game. Bill Parcells said that and I believe it,” Rhule said. “We get in the game and it just looked like the downfield passing game was going to be there in terms of some of the throws we threw at the end of the half. And it looked like the power run game was going to be there, so we stuck with it.”

Temple’s defense stayed the course as well. After letting the Bulls close the gap within a touchdown early in the fourth quarter, the Owls’ D tightened with an interception that set up a TD and a sack for a safety to seal the win.

In all, the group held a potent USF team that came into Friday eighth in the nation in rushing (268.4 yards per game) and 15th in total yards (506.4 yards per game) to 165 and 352, respectively.

“We came in the game with a mindset that we were going to play really well,” defensive lineman Praise Martin-Oguike said. “We knew what kind of guys they had. We knew they were going to get some plays on us. It was going to come down to the fourth quarter and it did, so we just kept playing the whole game.”

The ability to just keep playing is a mantra that should stick with Owls, especially now that they are back on top of the East Division. One slip-up and they could be right back to searching for words to describe their level of disappointment for this season.

“This was a team that mirrors us that they try to line up and pound you and they’re just so athletic and physical. This was a huge win for us,” Rhule said. “But as I told them in there, everything you did tonight won’t matter if you lose next week. You better get right back on the process that we do.

“It was just a huge moment for us with Army happening and then Memphis, letting it slip out of our hands. Then last week, kind of making some plays at the end. … There were just so many guys that made plays. That’s what makes it a huge win to me. Obviously it gives us some control, but that all can change in a week or the blink of an eye. They better stay focused.”