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Sam Hinkie resigns as 76ers GM and president of basketball operations

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The process is heading in a new direction.

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Sam Hinkie has stepped down from his roles as president of basketball operations and general manager of the Philadelphia 76ers, the team announced Wednesday. The move signals a major change for a franchise that's undergone one of the most aggressive rebuilds in NBA history under Hinkie's watch.

76ers owner Josh Harris released a statement confirming the news:

"This evening, Sam Hinkie notified the organization that he has elected to step down as President of Basketball Operations and General Manager. While we are disappointed in Sam’s decision, we would like to sincerely thank him for his contributions over the past three seasons. There is no question that Sam’s work has put us in a very strong position to take advantage of numerous opportunities for an exciting future."

Hinkie announced his resignation in a 13-page letter to the 76ers' ownership, reports ESPN's Marc Stein. A complete copy of it can be found here.

"There has been much criticism of our approach," Hinkie says in the letter. "There will be more. A competitive league like the NBA necessitates a zig while our competitors comfortably zag. We often chose not to defend ourselves against much of the criticism, largely in an effort to stay true to the ideal of having the longest view in the room.

"... Given all the changes to our organization, I no longer have the confidence that I can make good decisions on behalf of investors in the Sixers -- you. So I should step down. And I have."

A key factor in Hinkie's decision to step down is the team's recent pursuit of other executives to share power with the 38-year-old. The team asked him to take a reduced role in the front office, reports USA Today's Jeff Zillgitt, which comes just months after longtime executive Jerry Colangelo was hired as a special advisor.

Bryan Colangelo, Jerry's son, had been targeted as the Sixers' new GM in a partnership with Hinkie, according to The Vertical's Adrian Wojnarowski. This would've "fully marginalized" Hinkie's role with the team, however, so he has opted to step down. The younger Colangelo and Philadelphia are now in "advanced negotiations" and his hiring is "imminent," per Stein.

The 76ers hired Hinkie in 2013 and began what's been dubbed "The Process" to turn the team into a title contender. Hinkie's plan has involved eschewing any interest in present-day winning in favor of accumulating assets and tanking for better draft lottery odds.

The results have been mixed and led to speculation about Hinkie's future with the team, which only became louder after the 76ers hired Colangelo in December. At the time, the team was insistent that Hinkie would retain "final say" on all basketball decisions, but the writing seemed to be on the wall for the GM at that point.

Hinkie has now stepped away from the 76ers and his role in "The Process" before he'll really get to see it bear fruit. Just recently, Hinkie spoke on Zach Lowe's podcast and said the 76ers were planning to be much more aggressive in free agency this summer, an apparent indication of interest in putting a better team on the floor next season. However, Colangelo may be the one to see that plan through and try to finally start assembling the pieces Hinkie has acquired into something resembling a competitive roster. In that same podcast, Hinkie said he lost 20 pounds from stress.

Under Hinkie's watch, the 76ers added young players like Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor, Dario Saric and Joel Embiid. He also traded two useful point guards in Jrue Holiday and Michael Carter-Williams, and has struggled to find pieces that fit together beyond a plan to generally collect assets. The team was 47-195 with him at the helm.

Now it'll be up to Colangelo and whomever he hires -- possibly his son -- to see through the next steps in Hinkie's plan.