How Hard Did Sam Hinkie Try to Win Over Kristaps Porzingis?
At this point, we're well beyond the years of Sam Hinkie's 'Process' 76ers. We've all seen what the results of tanking for draft assets does for a team like the Sixers. It might not have translated to a championship just yet, but the 76ers have the talent to make an exciting run in the postseason. They just need to develop the chemistry to piece it all together and make it happen.
Unfortunately for Sam Hinkie, his plan didn't end well on a personal note. Although he left the Sixers in a positive situation, asset-wise -- the former NBA General Manager wasn't able to remain with the organization beyond April of 2016 as he stepped down.
Hinkie's final days with the Sixers are well-documented. The NBA was fed up with the analytical-forward GM practically gaming the system. However, what could Sam Hinkie have done in order to save his job as the frontman in the Sixers' front office?
Apparently, drafting Kritaps Porzingis could've offered Hinkie a better chance of staying, but the Lativian superstar didn't make it easy for the former Sixers General Manager to pull the trigger. In the book 'Tanking to the Top,' by Yaron Weitzman, the New York-based author went into great detail, describing just how difficult Porzingis and his camp were with the Sixers in the days leading up to the 2015 NBA Draft.
The fact that Porzingis didn't want to play for the team that's losing on purpose is not a revelation. In fact, Porzingis' unwillingness to showcase his talent in front of the Sixers before the draft was a significant story at the time.
But the lengths that Porzingis and his team went to make sure Sam Hinkie didn't take the eventual New York Knicks big man is quite shocking. (h/t to Marc Berman of NY Post).
An Overview of the Timeline
The Pro Day: Hinkie attended Porzingis' Pro Day. The former Sixers GM hoped to have a meeting with Porzingis before the workout, but it never happened. Instead, Porzingis' agent scheduled a workout in Philly but canceled before it happened.
Days Before the Draft: Porzingis was in New York gearing up for the NBA Draft. Hinkie requested another meeting, which was scheduled but once again canceled last minute.
Days Before the Draft Part II: Hinkie was willing to get a van to pick Porzingis up from New York and bring the big man to Philly for meetings, a workout, etc. Again, everything was agreed to, but Porzingis had to cancel last minute because of food poisoning.
On the Same Day: Despite being canceled on, Hinkie still had Sixers representatives hike over to New York to see if Porzingis would change his mind (or get healthier, I suppose). Unfortunately, Porzingis remained in New York.
Draft Day: Knowing he was going to spend the third-overall pick on somebody, Hinkie needed to ensure Porzingis was worth it. So as a desperate last attempt to convince the big man to meet and workout for the Sixers, Hinkie rented out a gym in New York on the morning before the 2015 NBA Draft. Porzingis and his team refused to attend.
Considering everything leading up to the draft, Porzingis made it extremely difficult for Sam Hinkie to spend a top-three pick on him. Therefore, the Sixers ended up taking a gamble on Duke big man, Jahlil Okafor. Meanwhile, Porzingis ended up in New York with the fourth-overall pick. At the time, Porzingis got what he wanted. Hinkie, on the other hand, struck out. At the very least, however, the former Sixers GM went down swinging.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him on Twitter: @JGrasso_