By Joseph Santoliquito
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Sixers General Manager Sam Hinkie is asking for patience. He’s yearning for the Sixers’ frustrated fanbase to be understanding and thoughtful for what it is the rebuilding franchise is trying to do.
In other words, it looks as if more “tanking” is ahead for the Sixers, since Hinkie is firm in his direction—and that’s squirreling more assets for the future.
It looks as if first-round picks, the recovering Joel Embiid and Dario Saric (since he signed a three-year deal with Turkish powerhouse Anadolu Efes), will not play a minute next season.Out of the seven players the Sixers took Thursday night in the NBA Draft, second-round pick KJ McDaniels, the Clemson 6-foot-6 power forward taken 32nd overall, seems the strongest possibility of being the most impactful player next season.
Overall, Hinkie said he was pleased with what the Sixers did in recovering from a 19-63 season, which included a franchise-record 26-game losing streak, when addressing the media Friday afternoon.
Hinkie took myriad questions and speculation. But Hinkie wasn’t able nor willing to put a timetable on when the future becomes the present.
“We feel really happy about the way things turned out for us,” Hinkie said. “I’ve been here 13 months and I think we’ve been pretty consistent about what we’ve been focused on during that time, which is how do we add more and more talent to our team. How do we bring in more and more players that can help us move forward with a goal of trying to build something that’s championship caliber. We’ve been really, really open about that.
“I think the larger answer is that it’s hard to know. We couldn’t have predicted very well at 7:40 last night what have happened at the third pick and who might have been there and who might not. We couldn’t have predicted very well who might have been there at our 10th pick. We’ll focus on trying to make all the best decisions we can and where that takes us.”
Where it looks like it is taking the Sixers is another two or three years of 20-to-25-win seasons before the team turns around.
Hinkie said he feels the Sixers’ fans seem willing to be patience “for the price you have to pay to go to where you want to go.” Hinkie said the path will continue to be difficult in an “effort to get somewhere they all want us to get to, where we all want to get to, to get back to being a finalist again, and get back to winning a title again. I see patience and understanding. It’s been remarkable to see just how thoughtful all of our fans have been about what it is we’re trying to do.”
On Embiid, Hinkie said he’s heard various estimations on his recovery from the navicular bone surgery he had last week. Hinkie said it was a challenge in taking Embiid, evaluating the risk and in the end “we feel good and it’s a calculated risk,” Hinkie said. “[Embiid] is a remarkable talent that in our minds, only in this scenario, does he fall to three.
“Time frame, I’ve seen reported, some four to six months, but the number I heard was five to eight months [for Embiid’s recovery]. We will focus on the long-term health of the player. It is all that matters. We’ll be smart and thoughtful about that. If he can remain healthy, which I think there is a very, very good chance, I think he can have a fantastic NBA career.”
Hinkie was very high on Saric. Several of the Sixers’ staff has been the 6-10 forward play—and Hinkie says he could not expect to see Saric as a Sixer in “two years or longer.”
The dream front, in Hinkie’s future crystal ball, will have Nerlens Noel at center, Embiid at one forward and Saric at small forward.
“I will say this, if in fact they do play together, which is what we anticipate, we’re going to be a menace at the rim, an absolute menace,” Hinkie said. “If you’re going to bring violence to the other team, that’s the place to do it.”
It’s just going to take a couple of years to arrive.
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