The Sixers announced the hire of Sam Hinkie as the team's new general manager on Friday. Hinkie has been No. 1 on the unofficial Ziller's Assistant GMs Who Should Get GM Jobs Power Rankings for about three years now. (Ryan McDonough, recently hired by the Suns as GM, had vaulted to No. 2 after Paul Flannery's longform feature on him. My list needs revisions, apparently. Spoiler alert: Troy Weaver is the new No. 1.)
Hinkie worked under Daryl Morey, the poster child for advanced analytics in the NBA. Hinkie's background is the typical quant path: worked for an investment firm, has an MBA, loves basketball and applied data-crunching to the sport. The Sixers' owner is an investment banker and last year hired away the Grizzlies' advanced stats guru Aaron Barzilai. So the fit is there.
The question concerns the Sixers' biggest quandary heading into the offseason: does Andrew Bynum fit there, too?
Three responses to that in light of the Hinkie news.
1. The Sixers have little else at center. Spencer Hawes played 55 percent of the team's center minutes last season. Even though the center position is slowly dying, Hawes would not be in the top half of the league's starting centers barring huge improvement in efficiency and/or rebounding. (Could he be a stretch five? His career averages: 1.4 three-point attempts per 36 minutes, 31 percent shooting.) Lavoy Allen got another 30 percent of the Sixers' center minutes. He's somehow less efficient than Hawes and a worse rebounder. So, yeah. If the Sixers want to compete in the next couple years, either they can go with Hawes-Allen-Arnett Moultrie and expect the other four positions to excel, or they can spend money on a starting center, Bynum or not.
2. Morey's long-running challenge in Houston was to find a superstar. He tried and failed multiple times. Then he landed James Harden. Bynum has been a superstar, albeit for one fleeting season. There's got to be a real reluctance to let that go if a medical check shows Bynum can regain his game. Jrue Holiday is really quite good (an All-Star) and Thad Young is no slouch. But Bynum's on another level at a tough position to fill ... if he's healthy. If Hinkie was a true believer of Morey's superstar theory -- as he should be, because it appears to be true -- that could mean that the Sixers will work hard to keep Bynum instead of listening to the voices that never want to hear his name again.
3. If Sixers owner Josh Harris isn't on board with keeping Bynum because of how ugly last season was, look for the Rockets rumor mill to start immediately. Whether Houston would actually look to trade for or sign Bynum is irrelevant: this is just how the rumor mill works. That's why we heard Rajon Rondo to Phoenix rumors immediately after the Suns hired McDonough. We expect former co-workers to communicate well enough to make complicated, mutually beneficial deals. It's the McHale-Ainge/Kupchak-West theorem, I suppose. Houston has a fine center in Omer Asik, but again: healthy Bynum is one of the very, very best centers in the NBA -- probably the best offensive center. Bynum-James Harden-Chandler Parsons is a little frightening even to think about.
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