The Sixers have agreed to hire Rockets executive vice president of basketball operations Sam Hinkie as their new general manager. Hinkie will replace Tony DiLeo.
Yahoo! Sports reports that the management shake-up, which comes a few weeks after coach Doug Collins stepped down, will also involve the expected retirement of president Rod Thorn. League sources have confirmed the agreement between the Sixers and Hinkie to SI.com.
Hinkie, a well-known figure in the advanced stats community, will become Philadelphia's third GM since July 2011, when the current ownership group, led by Joshua Harris, purchased the Sixers from Comcast-Spectacor. Harris immediately relieved then-GM Ed Stefanski of his duties and Thorn was left to serve as president, without a GM, during the 2011-12 lockout-shortened season. DiLeo was then promoted to GM in September 2012 after an extensive executive search.
SI.com reported last year that Hinkie was "seriously considered" for the GM position last fall before the Sixers opted to keep things in-house with DiLeo, who had worked for the team since 1990 and rose to the position of vice president. Collins also maintained an influential voice on personnel matters.
The Hinkie hiring represents a clear shift in approach for the franchise. Collins famously told the Philadelphia Inquirer that he would rather "blow his brains out" than read "20-page printouts" after games. Hinkie, on the other hand, is a regular attendee of the annual MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference and has worked with Rockets GM Daryl Morey, who is synonymous with "Moneyball" and analytics in the NBA, for the past eight seasons.
"I'm probably pretty boring to watch a game with because I'm all about expected values," Hinkie told Rockets.com in a 2008 interview. "I don't even care if it goes in or not. I'm all about, 'Should it go in?' I can live with randomness. I mean, if it's a close game in the end, yeah, I'm just like anyone else. But I just want us to play the odds all the time."
Before joining the Rockets, Hinkie provided statistical analysis and advice to multiple NFL teams, spent time with a global strategy consulting firm and worked in private equity and venture capital.
It's understandable that Harris would want to change the direction of his front office after a disappointing 34-48 season that saw the franchise drop back into the draft lottery after back-to-back playoff trips. The 2012 blockbuster trade for center Andrew Bynum, who never suited up for a game because of ongoing knee injuries, hung over the organization all season.
Collins lamented the move during a charged postgame news conference in February.
“We made a huge deal. And we have nobody playing as part of that deal. How many teams can give up Andre Iguodala, Moe Harkless and Nik Vucevic, and have nothing in return playing? That’s tough to overcome, right? That’s just the facts. I’m not looking for any out. But that’s the facts. Nik Vucevic had 19 rebounds tonight. Spencer [Hawes] had one. I think Lavoy [Allen] had two.”
The Rockets, meanwhile, returned to the playoffs for the first time since 2009 this season, although they were eliminated in six games by the Thunder. Houston went 45-37, good for the West's No. 8 seed, and Morey finished third in the 2013 Executive of the Year voting after signing Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik and trading for All-Star James Harden.