The Philadelphia 76ers are targeting Houston Rockets executive vice president of basketball operations Sam Hinkie in their ongoing search for a new general manager, SI.com has learned.
A leader in the league's analytics movement who has been the Rockets' second-in-command behind general manager Daryl Morey for the past five years, Hinkie joins a field of candidates that includes Boston assistant general manager Mike Zarren, former New Orleans general manager Jeff Bower, and former Portland assistant general manager and ESPN analyst Tom Penn. Sixers incumbent Rod Thorn has a year remaining on his contract, but his deal reportedly includes a provision through which he will become a part-time consultant with the team for the following five years as part of a transition that already has begun.
The Sixers have received permission to speak with Hinkie, though it's not known if he has met with owner Josh Harris and his group. It also remains unclear whether Hinkie is willing to leave his job with the Rockets to continue his NBA front office ascent.
Hinkie -- who has been integral in draft, scouting and salary cap management for the Rockets and has an MBA from Stanford -- was hired by Houston as a special assistant to then-general manager Carroll Dawson in 2005. While there is no known timeline for the Sixers' search, the job became far more appealing when the Sixers landed center Andrew Bynum on Aug. 10 in the four-team deal that sent Dwight Howard to the Lakers.
There is already momentum for the Sixers entering their second season under the Harris-led ownership group, as eighth-seeded Philadelphia downed the top-seeded -- and Derrick-Rose less -- Bulls in the first round of the playoffs. Philadelphia also took Boston to seven games before falling in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
The Sixers lost two of their top three leading scorers in Lou Williams (via free agency to Atlanta) and Andre Iguodala (in the four-team trade, to Denver), but added shooting guard Nick Young and center Kwame Brown via free agency. They also made a trade with Golden State to acquire small forward Dorell Wright.