Sam Hinkie Resigns as 76ers GM: Takeaways from Former Exec's Resignation Letter

Alec Nathan@@AlecBNathanFeatured ColumnistApril 7, 2016

PHILADELPHIA, PA - FEBRUARY 10: Philadelphia 76ers general manager Sam Hinkie looks down at his phone prior to the game against the Sacramento Kings on February 10, 2016 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Sam Hinkie stepped down as general manager of the Philadelphia 76ers Wednesday evening, according to an official statement from the team, and the sprawling 13-page resignation letter he sent to the club's investors became public shortly thereafter. 

The letterwhich exceeds 7,000 words in total and was made public by ESPN.com—explores the path the team charted since he was hired in May 2013, but it does so in a wholly unique way. 

Over the course of the letter, Hinkie cites the likes of Abraham Lincoln, billionaire Warren Buffett, Tesla Motors founder Elon Musk, physicist James Clerk Maxwell and baseball writer Bill James, as he seemingly found a way to connect basketball to every component of a college curriculum, according to The Vertical's Chris Mannix: 

Chris Mannix @ChrisMannixYS

Finished reading Sam Hinkie's resignation letter. It's a history lesson, a science lesson and, yes, a resignation, all in one. Incredible.

However, USA Today's Sam Amick noted Hinkie's jargon-filled manifesto wasn't exactly out of the ordinary: 

Sam Amick @sam_amick

For what it's worth, this was hardly the first time Hinkie communicated with Sixers ownership in this form & fashion. This was his method.

In a section of the letter titled A Reverence for Disruption, Hinkie's unconventional line of thinking became clear when he used several non-basketball analogies to explain how innovation—in this case, the Sixers' asset-based team-building strategy—can lead to disruption and advancement: 

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This is true everywhere, as the balance in any market or any ecosystem ebbs and flows until something mostly unexpected lurches ahead. We see it in spades—past, present, and future.

• New Zealand’s flightless bird the moa (measuring in at 10 ft, 400 lbs.) had the life tramping around the South Island for a great long run; then the first Māori explorers washed ashore in canoes, and that was that.

• I still miss Blackberry’s keyboard, but the 2007 iPhone debut rendered it nearly obsolete to all but a few of us curmudgeons.

• Watch what’s happening with the collaboration between IBM’s Watson and M.D. Anderson or Google DeepMind’s AlphaGo. It won’t be just an ancient board game that’s disrupted. It’s also anything but a game to Lee Sedol.

On the basketball side of things, Hinkie spelled out the strategy he provided to the team's ownership group upon arrival: "Replenish the talent pipeline, improve the quality and quantity of players on the roster, shift the style of play towards tomorrow’s champions, and become a culture focused on innovation."

Hinkie also explained that when he pitched owners Josh Harris and David Blitzer in 2012, he said championship teams of the future would "break from historical trends" and cited Stan Van Gundy's three-point happy 2008-09 Orlando Magic team and Mike D'Antoni's Seven Seconds or Less Phoenix Suns as primary examples. 

The follow-up from Hinkie cites the defending champion Golden State Warriors as the manifestation of that prediction. 

Perhaps craziest of all was Hinkie's admission that he cast the lone Executive of the Year vote for Boston Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge in 2014 after Ainge snagged Joel Anthony and two second-round picks from the Miami Heat in a fairly mundane swap. 

But given Hinkie's affection for acquiring second-round picks, perhaps that anecdote shouldn't come as much of a surprise. 

Finally, Hinkie closed things up by praising the position the Sixers are in as they enter the most crucial offseason of their rebuild to date.

The departed general manager noted, "we have what will likely be the best ever odds to get the #1 overall pick (nearly 30%), a roughly 50/50 chance at a top-2 pick (the highest ever), and a roughly 50/50 chance at two top-5 picks, which would be the best lottery night haul ever," thanks to the Michael Carter-Williams blockbuster that netted Philadelphia the Los Angeles Lakers' top-three protected pick. 

Hinkie ultimately concluded the team is "on solid footing now, with much hard work yet to be done," thanks to its draft-pick stockpile, financial flexibility and in-house talent like Jahlil Okafor, Nerlens Noel, Joel Embiid and Dario Saric. 

However, it will be incumbent upon Bryan Colangelo—who is expected to be tabbed as the team's next GM, per The Vertical's Adrian Wojnarowski—to help the Sixers take advantage of the position they're in.  

Drafting well and growing organically will be the first step, but Colangelo will need to succeed where Hinkie didn't and find innovative ways to pitch free agents who are wary of latching on with a team that has become stigmatized as a perennial loser. 

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