The 76ers crunched the numbers and decided to put the franchise in the hands of an analytics guru.
A person familiar with the decision tells The Associated Press the Sixers have hired Sam Hinkie as team president and general manager. The person spoke Friday on condition of anonymity because the deal was not expected to become official until next week.
Hinkie, the executive vice-president of basketball operations for the Houston Rockets, was the top choice by owner Joshua Harris to oversee the rebuilding of the beleaguered franchise.
Hinkie is an analytics disciple and spoke in March at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference. His conference bio listed him as an "original contributor to the leading sports analytics conference held annually at MIT."
The Rockets became the first NBA team to manage the basketball operations of its D-League team. Likely as a sign of what's ahead, the 76ers last month acquired a team to compete in the NBA's developmental league in Delaware.
Hinkie must now hire a coach after Doug Collins resigned following three seasons. Collins and former Rod Thorn are officially consultants for the team, but are now in the background of a major reconstruction project that Harris, Hinkie and a new coach will tackle.
Tony DiLeo is out after one full season as Sixers general manager. DiLeo, who completed his 23rd season with the Sixers, had been working as senior vice-president before his promotion. He had a brief stint as an assistant in the early 1990s, and took over as interim coach in December 2008 after Maurice Cheeks was fired.
DiLeo was widely credited — and now blamed — for orchestrating the botched deal for centre Andrew Bynum. DiLeo did not immediately return a request for comment.
Team went 34-48 this season
Philadelphia went to the playoffs in Collins' first two seasons, and advanced to the Eastern Conference semifinals last season. But with Bynum injured all season, the 76ers stumbled to a 34-48 finish this season.
Bynum never played for the Sixers because of bone bruises in both knees. He insisted from training camp he would play this season, only to shut it down for good on March 18 and undergo season-ending arthroscopic surgery on both knees. Bynum earned $16.5 million this season and is set to become an unrestricted free agent.
Bynum is one of six free agents for the Sixers, who are devoid of any real assets. Jrue Holiday was an All-Star in his third full season and joined Wilt Chamberlain as the two players in the franchise's 50-year history to average more than 17 points and eight assists for an entire season.
Thaddeus Young and Evan Turner are solid assets. But those two standouts — along with Holiday — weren't enough to help lead the Sixers back to the post-season.
In a preview of the looming shakeup, the Sixers hired Aaron Barzilai as their analytics director in November. He is the founder of BasketballValue.com, a website which presents adjusted and unadjusted plus/minus ratings for players and units to illustrate the impact a player has on the court as well as on a team's offensive and defensive efficiency. He also has contributed content to 82games.com.