Early on, when they didn’t have anyone who looked like they would become an established star, I think you’re right that Hinkie would have gone for as many chances as possible. And he would’ve been right to do so — imagine if he’d traded the pick that became Ben Simmons for a veteran to help Michael Carter-Williams! There’s such a thing as selling too low too soon.
But there’s significant evidence that Hinkie was not against packaging assets to grab the right player: This Business Insider article describes his thinking:
“[Hinkie] said that the only way to win an NBA title is to have a team that can win 55+ games every year. And the only way to have a team that can win 55+ games every year is to get great players. And the only way to get great players is to have enough picks to either 1) draft a great player, or 2) put together a trade package for a great player that can help you make a ‘big leap.’”
So if you think that Fultz has a much better chance of being a great player than any player you would get at 3, or were likely to get between 2 and 5 next year, it would make sense to trade up, according to Hinkie’s stated philosophy. Now, maybe Hinkie wouldn’t have been as high on Fultz as Colangelo was, and if not, he wouldn’t have made the trade. But given how unanimous scouts seem to be on Fultz, I’d say there’s a good chance he does the same thing.
And again, even if Colangelo is the one exec who would make that trade, he’s only able to do so because of assets he inherited from Hinkie. I guess that could justify Hinkie’s firing and Colangelo’s hiring — get the cautious guy to build up your war chest, and then get the guy who wasn’t afraid to take a flier on Andreas Bargnani to aggressively pursue the players you want.