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On the NBA Beat Ep. 31a: Michael Levin: Sixers’ Jerry Colangelo “Emerged as a Tremendous Snake”

A flurry of activity surrounded the Philadelphia 76ers front office during the final week of the regular season, beginning with the resignation of GM Sam Hinkie, a figure beloved by some and misunderstood and hated by others. Michael Levin, editor of SB Nation’s Liberty Ballers and co-host of the Sixers podcast “The Rights to Ricky Sanchez,” joins us to discuss the trials and tribulations of covering the Sixers during Hinkie’s tenure and why throughout the unprecedented amount of losing, he still trusted the process and remained optimistic about the future. Now that former chairman Jerry Colangelo has installed his son Bryan Colangelo as the new GM and President of Basketball Operations before stepping down himself, who knows what that future may hold for Philadelphia? Choice excerpts below:

1:40-1:50 on Sam Hinkie’s 13-page resignation letter:


“I could have done with 13 more pages. I would have liked 50. I would have liked a novel.”


3:55-4:25 on why diehard Sixers fans were so accepting of Hinkie’s “process”:


“It’s what we wanted for years and years and years because the foundation they were building on for so long was flawed and faulty and totally capped: at best, a scrappy playoff team that would win maybe a round, and at worst just a terrible team. We all were very excited when Hinkie came in. We’ve been very supportive of the process… we never really lost a tremendous amount of faith.”


5:20-5:40 on trusting “the process” espoused by former GM Sam Hinkie:


“The national narrative became: ‘They’re just trying to lose forever, and there’s no hope to it.’ But you can see that what they were doing made sense and that the people that supported the plan were on board with pretty much everything.”


12:00-12:15 on head coach Brett Brown:


“Ultimately, we all landed on ‘Look, he doesn’t have the talent yet, so let’s not start to poke holes.’ We’re all very happy with how Brett has managed the team and managed personalities and been the face of the organization for three years.”


13:37-14:15 on the legacy of Sam Hinkie on 76ers’ basketball:


“Hinkie comes in and prioritizes restocking, not just picks, but young players and trying to develop them and give them the time and the platform they need to improve and to prove whether they are worthy of sticking on the team long-term. They have a ton of picks — as many as four first-round picks in this draft — and you add in Joel Embiid…and Dario Saric, who, by all accounts, seems to be coming over this coming season.”


18:47-19:08 on the circumstances surrounding Hinkie’s departure:


“The party line of ownership and the Colangelos is ‘We expected Sam to be here. We’re totally surprised that he quit,’ but if you demote someone twice, what the hell do you think they’re going to do? It’s not worth it.”


22:45-23:10 on Carl Landry’s team impact:


“This was the first year where there was not a veteran in sight. And Carl Landry coming in and then eventually Ish Smith,started getting people where they should be on offense, created spacing, and opened up lanes. And lately, the last month of the season, he (Landry) was just on fire. It was nice to be able to get him the ball at 19 feet, and you know he’s gonna make it.”


24:05- 24:50 on the Sixers’ recent draft strategy of drafting the best available player rather than the best fit:


“The last three top picks they’ve had–Nerlens (Noel), Joel (Embiid) and Jahlil (Okafor)–are all pretty pure 5s. That took “best player available” to the extreme, and I respect that. But, ultimately, I think that they backed themselves into a corner…People know that they need to deal a big man. There’s no way that they’re going to spend the next 10 years with Nerlens, Jahlil and Joel on the team. It’s just not going to happen.”


29:20-30:05 on whom, aside from their core group, the Sixers would be wise to keep as part of their plans:


“Jerami Grant, I think, continues to get better. He’s only in his second year and he’s really good. He still needs a jump shot, and he’s wild when he goes to the rim, but he’s got a pretty interesting skill-set and he could be a legitimate player. Robert Covington is great. He’s opening up different parts of his game more lately. He’s a good small-ball 4…(and) he’s especially (good at hitting) contested shots…T.J. McConnell, I would kill to have him as a backup point guard for 10 years. I worry that they’re going to give Ish Smith big money. I hope they don’t.”


Music: “Who Likes to Party?” by Kevin MacLeod
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