Colangelo’s Guidance has Helped Hinkie Take a Step Forward
The Philadelphia 76ers are making their annual west coast trip during the Christmas season, along the way they added an early gift.The day after Christmas, while the Eagles were on their way to being eliminated from playoff contention, the Sixers picked up a win in Phoenix that many weren't expecting.
On Christmas eve, the 76ers officially acquired Ish Smith from the Pelicans in exchange for two second-round picks, a move that many observers felt had the finger prints of new chairman of basketball operations Jerry Colangelo - but in a recent interview with the Arizona Republic, Colangelo implied that he doesn’t have as much power with the Sixers as some might assume.
“Because in the past, the buck always stopped with me,” Colangelo admitted.
He noted that his top priority isn't to make deals but to “offer advice, be another voice.”
Many people have saids the deal for Smith isn't a Sam Hinkie type of move, because in the deal the Sixers gave up "assets" to get a player who might help them todsay - something that has fundamentally been against what Hinkie has done.
However, I would contend that Hinkie and the team was ready to take a step forward in 2016 - even if 2016 started a little early.
The deal Hinkie made with the Kings this off season was a similar deal and indication the Sixers were ready to take steps forward. They acquired three players, a 2018 first rounder and the ability to swap first rounders the next two years for essentially two second-round picks or "assets" as many like to call them.
The ability to swap picks the next two seasons could be the indication the the Sixers felt that they would be ready to be a much more competitive team by 2017, with a chance to pass the Kings and then take their pick, plus taking their 2018 pick - the Sixers will have up to four picks in this draft, with the chance to play better basketball in 2016-2017 and still have a shot at a high pick in the 2017 draft by swapping with the Kings and then two more first round picks in 2018.
Many have the opinion that Hinkie has a one track mind, but what to say he stayed the course of the plan until this point, got some guidance from Colangelo and decided to spin some of the assets he acquired and take a step forward a few months early, realizing 1-30 was just not a good image for the plan or the organization.
Hinkie tried to get value in every deal he has made since taking over as GM in 2013 - something that could always help them sometime down the road, the road is beginning to have a fork and Hinkie, with the guidance of Colanglo finally made a decision to help the team now.
The Sixers are 2-30, currently three games behind the five win Lakers in the pursuit for the NBA's worst record, but the team felt they had enough cushion in that pursuit that adding a credible point guard for the second half of the season benefits the team more in the long run - something they have always had an eye on.
The deal gives the Pelicans two high second round picks - good value for a guard who had fallen to third on their depth chart. However, it gives the Sixers a a veteran guard who can now help the development of both Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel. Last season in Philly he compiled averages of 12.8 points, 3.0 boards, 6.2 assists and 1.3 steals and will log some significant minutes in Philly helping those to big men.
“I think it’s his experience,” Noel told Sixers.com about what he likes about playing with Smith. “Him being as athletic as he is at the point guard position, and being able to create. Just a willing passer. He makes things a lot easier for the people around him. He makes them better.”
He will have a significant role and showed some great chemistry with Noel when the two played together last season - so the trade of "assets" for someone who can help today, actually has an eye on the future.
Some have said the Sixers didn't need to go this far, they could have had better guards at the start of the season, and they could have. They wanted to ensure they would be in position to be in play for the top pick in the draft, which isn't very deep this season - and they have.
Smith shouldn't help the Sixers rip off six-eight wins anytime soon, but he should help them be more competitive late in games and help the Sixers young big men become better players for 2016-2017 when the team is expected to take big strides on the court.
Add in veteran big man Carl Landry and the Sixers have some stability and someone to work with Okafor and Noel, something fans have been asking for.
While the fingerprints of the Smith trade seemingly have Jerry Colangelo's hands all over it, I think its the first sign of Hinkie having some guidance and realizing he has done a good job to this point and he can start looking towards taking a step forward, even if he had to be pushed to take that step himself.