Philadelphia 76ers general manager Sam Hinkie has made it clear that he’s not looking to make a quick fix of the team.
This makes him somewhat unique in terms of NBA executives. Sure, most general managers will talk about building for the long term. They’ll claim that they want to build their team the “right way,” only to turn around and make moves that are not beneficial to their long-term interest.
Sometimes these GMs make moves due to their own impatience, but in most cases they are more concerned with the impatience of the fans and owners.
Most fans agree that in theory, they’d take their team struggling for a few years if it eventually results in a championship. But those years of struggle can be quite difficult to endure. And it’s a tough sell to ask fans to spend money to watch a team with very little chance to win on any given night.
After a few years of losing, most NBA owners are going to start asking questions about when they’re going to see some improvement. Once those questions start getting asked, the general manager might have to deviate from his plan and make a short-term move. This often means trading draft picks for veterans or overpaying free agents.
Sure, these moves might help the team that season, but the salary cap implications and losses of draft picks often hinder the team’s ability to grow much larger.
Just look at how Sixers fans reacted after the NBA Draft. Pretty much everyone accepted that the team was in the midst of a long-term rebuild, yet there is a growing amount of angst about just how long the process is going to take. Apparently, many fans aren’t exactly pleased that the 2014-2015 Sixers aren’t going to be much better than last year’s team – and may in fact end up being worse.
It feels like Josh Harris and the rest of the Sixers’ ownership group are on board with Hinkie’s plan. Thus far, they seem to have accepted that the team will lose a lot of games for a few years, and as a result, ticket sales and television ratings are going to suffer.
But I wonder just how infinite their patience is. Has a team ever tried THIS slow of a build? After Nerlens Noel missed all of last season, barring a miraculous recovery by Joel Embiid, the Sixers will now have two lottery picks (Dario Sacic being the other) miss the entire season.
Not only do the years off the court hinder that given year’s record, but it’s just another year that the player’s development will be delayed. Yes, Embiid will probably be able to practice with the team at some point this season, but there’s a big difference between practicing and the experience gained by playing in an NBA game.
I figure that since the Sixers owners gave Hinkie permission to dismantle the team, they’ll at least want to give him a few years to allow his plan to play out. I guess he has at least three more years before management starts showing any impatience
By the end of the 2016-2017 season, the team should have some indication if the core of Embiid, Sacic, Noel, Michael Carter-Williams (as well as the high pick they’ll inevitably receive in the 2015 draft) actually has a bright future. If those guys turn out to be busts or if they’re not making the progress that was expected, it’s possible that the owners begin to apply pressure for Hinkie to get the team back into the playoffs sooner rather than later.
This is bad news for any fans who have already become impatient. There are likely a few more lean years ahead, and it doesn’t appear that the Sixers are going to go for a quick fix anytime soon.