The trade deadline can be a trying and anxious time for NBA players. As rumors swirl, these athletes must consider the possibility that their lives will change drastically over the course of a few hours. For those who actually are dealt, the move brings with it a number of responsibilities and tasks, including but not limited to finding a place to live and figuring out how to fit a PS4 into a carry-on bag.
In the rush to get everything done, it figures that the traded player probably doesn't want to think extra-hard about getting a ride to the airport to join his new teammates. Luckily, when Evan Turner was traded from the lowly Philadelphia 76ers to the East-leading Indiana Pacers on deadline day nearly one month ago, he didn't have to look far for a driver. That's because the man who traded him offered one. From John Gonzalez for CSNPhilly.com (via EOB):
There’s an old joke about volunteering to drive an unwanted player to the airport just to get him out of town. Except when the Sixers traded Evan Turner to Indiana, it wasn’t a joke. Sam Hinkie actually hopped in the car with Turner and took him to catch his flight. That had to be an awfully strange ride.
“It was random, for sure,” Turner said. “But I can shoot the s--- with anyone. It was cool, man. Hinkie is definitely a cool guy. He comes off as reserved. Sometimes you don’t really know what to take from him at first, but he talks and he’s cool and he has pretty cool stories. It was just a kind gesture. I appreciate that.”
That is not quite what you’d expect to hear from Turner, who as recently as early November said, “Hinkie is not my GM.” Time and distance have a way of smoothing things over. [...]
“I barely saw him, as opposed to the Rod Thorn situation,” Turner said. “Rod was my man, you know what I’m saying? He could scold me, and then we could talk about something else later. Sam is a different GM and a different president. He does things a little bit differently. We spoke, and there wasn’t any hostility. It wasn’t anything negative or anything like that.”
This is a nice gesture from Hinkie, although it's hard to imagine that Turner would have been so happy (both then and now) if he hadn't been traded from a league doormat to one of the NBA's few legitimate title contenders. In another circumstance, Turner may have preferred to take the shuttle. And that thing could stop anywhere!
Jokes aside, Turner's comments speak to why Hinkie's hands-off style sometimes make more sense for an executive, particularly one who plans on overhauling the roster. Although Turner may have bristled at his non-relationship with Hinkie early in the season, it proved useful at the time of the trade. Hinkie could give Turner a ride to the airport as a business associate doing a now-former colleague a favor -- there was little emotion in play. Given the demands of professional basketball and the regular transactions within, that approach seems all the more practical than that of Thorn under the same circumstances. On the other hand, Hinkie's manner might turn players off once the team has a core in place. As ever, different scenarios demand different approaches and organizational philosophies.
All we know, really, is that Sam Hinkie can be counted on to drive his players to the airport. Maybe Nerlens Noel will ask him for help moving apartments soon. After all, that's the only true test of the player-GM relationship.
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