T.J. McConnell

Sixers Notes: Colangelo, Workouts, McConnell, Holmes

The Sixers insist the loss of Bryan Colangelo hasn’t affected their draft preparations, relays Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Colangelo resigned last week as president of basketball operations after a Twitter-related scandal involving sensitive information released through burner accounts.

The front office has tried to stick to business as usual in his absence, conducting pre-draft workouts over the past three days. Coach Brett Brown has taken over Colangelo’s responsibilities on an interim basis, and draft decisions will be made as a group effort.

“I don’t think it’s going to change much, to be honest with you,” said VP of player personnel Marc Eversley. “All of our scouts have been on staff here for the past two years. I’ve been here for the last two years. You know, we’re in a position where we feel we are going to be able … to select somebody who’s going to be able to come in and help us contribute.”

There’s more tonight from Philadelphia:

  • After two days of bringing in high-profile prospects, today’s workout focused on potential second-round picks, summer leaguers and G League acquisitions, Pompey writes in a separate story. West Virginia’s Jevon Carter and Miami’s Bruce Brown highlighted the session, with Brown saying he is motivated by a stress fracture in his left foot that required surgery in February and limited his effectiveness at the combine. “I just have a chip on my shoulder that I know I can get back to where I was,” said Brown, who was viewed as a possible lottery pick before the season began. “I know teams are going to believe in me, and believe that I can do that. So it just adds a chip on the shoulder, and I’m ready to go after guys that go before me.”
  • Today’s move to exercise team options on Richaun Holmes and T.J. McConnell could lead to free agency decisions next summer, Pompey notes in another piece. Both will have non-guaranteed $1.6MM salaries next season then will become unrestricted free agents if they aren’t signed to extensions. “Like I said, I want to be here,” McConnell said. “So I’m excited they picked it up. But that’s not going to change how I approach every day.”
  • The Sixers are in contention for the top players on the free agent market, but Brown promises they won’t spend recklessly if they don’t get their main targets, tweets Jessica Camerato of NBC Sports Philadelphia.

Sixers Exercise T.J. McConnell’s Team Option

JUNE 13: The Sixers have officially exercised McConnell’s team option, the club announced today in a press release. The announcement also confirmed that Richaun Holmes‘ option has been picked up, as we relayed earlier today.

MAY 11: The Sixers intend to pick up their 2018/19 team option on T.J. McConnell, team president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo told reporters today (Twitter link via Derek Bodner of The Athletic). That option is worth $1,600,520.

McConnell, 26, is coming off a third straight year as a rotation player for the Sixers. In 76 regular season games this season, he averaged 6.3 PPG, 4.0 APG, and 3.0 RPG with a shooting line of .499/.435/.795.

With Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz seemingly ready to handle point guard duties coming into the season, McConnell’s role was expected to be reduced. However, health problems limited Fultz to just 14 regular season games, opening the door for the veteran to be Simmons’ primary backup at the point. McConnell was particularly effective in the postseason, making 25 of 36 shots (.694 FG%) in 10 games against the Heat and Celtics.

While McConnell’s $1.6MM option is obviously a steal for the 76ers, there was a chance the club would decide to turn it down. Like Nikola Jokic in Denver, McConnell would have been a restricted free agent this summer if his option had been declined, but will now be on track for unrestricted free agency in 2019.

Unlike Jokic, McConnell isn’t a franchise-type player, so Philadelphia will opt for the bargain price in 2018/19 and then take its chances with the point guard in unrestricted free agency in 2019, rather than ensuring they can keep him long-term by giving him a raise this offseason.

As ESPN’s Bobby Marks notes (via Twitter), McConnell’s salary for 2018/19 remains non-guaranteed even after his option is exercised. However, that shouldn’t matter much, since Philadelphia won’t waive him.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Sixers Notes: Probably LeBron James, McConnell, Fultz

Sixers head coach Brett Brown made it very clear that the team could benefit from acquiring a high-level free agent as they accelerate their title-contention timeline. That, Derek Bodner of The Athletic writes, probably means one LeBron James, though tampering rules prevented Brown from saying that outright.

The Sixers coach spoke in a press conference after his team’s exit from the second-round of the playoffs, saying that he believes the organization is an appealing landing spot.

Given that the dynamic tandem of Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons wasn’t enough to guide the Sixers into the Eastern Conference Finals, the club is ready and willing to add the necessary reinforcements to make a genuine title run.

I’m not here to tell names,” Brown said in regard to the type of player the Sixers will pursue. “To me, the answer becomes clear. […] It’s true though, right? I mean, like, we don’t have to turn this into calculus. It’s quite clear.

There’s more out of Philly this evening:

  • After head coach Brett Brown spoke of attracting a high-level free agent this summer, general manager Bryan Colangelo clarified that the organization needs to add high-level talent in general, which could come in the form of a trade or internal development, Derek Bodner of The Athletic tweets.
  • There’s no denying that T.J. McConnell‘s future with the Sixers will be impacted by Markelle Fultz‘s growth as a player. “Markelle is a special player, that’s not a lie,” McConnell told Sarah Todd of The Philadelphia Inquirer. “When he plays at the level that they drafted him to play at, if there’s a spot for me, great; if not, I’m not really sure what I can do about that. Unfortunately, that’s out of my hands. But I’d love to be here.
  • The most likely draft-and-stash player to join the Sixers next season is 2017 second-round pick Jonah Bolden out of Australia, The Athletic’s Derek Bodner tweets. The power forward played for Maccabi Tel Aviv in EuroLeague this season.
  • Unsurprisingly, Bryan Colangelo said that he has no regrets about trading up in the 2017 draft to select Markelle Fultz. Derek Bodner of The Athletic tweets that Colangelo doesn’t have an ounce of buyer’s remorse.

Sixers Notes: Embiid, Belinelli, McConnell, Fultz

Asked on Thursday about the possibility of recruiting LeBron James to the Sixers this summer, Joel Embiid hesitated and requested clarity on the NBA’s tampering rules before ultimately telling reporters to ask him again on July 1, the first day of the 2018/19 NBA league year.

Still, while Embiid wasn’t willing to commit specifically to helping the 76ers pursue the summer’s top free agent, he did say in general terms that he’s very open to selling players on Philadelphia, as Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer details.

“I’ll do whatever this team needs me to do,” Embiid said of recruiting free agents, per Pompey. “I feel like I’m the leader. If the team needs me to recruit somebody, I’ll be here. I’ll be doing that. … I want to win. I feel like any of those guys that they want to go after that’s going to help us win, I’ll be right here helping them.”

Here’s more out of Philadelphia:

  • Count veteran sharpshooter Marco Belinelli among the free-agents-to-be who has interest in returning to Philadelphia next season. In a post on Twitter, Belinelli tells fans that he “trusted the process since day one” and would like to continue wearing a Sixers jersey.
  • T.J. McConnell indicated on Thursday that he expects the Sixers to pick up his inexpensive team option for 2018/19 (Twitter link via Kevin Kinkead of Crossing Broad). While that $1.6MM option would be a great bargain for the club, it’s not a mortal lock to be exercised — picking it up would put McConnell on track for unrestricted free agency in 2019, while the Sixers could safely lock him up to a multiyear deal this summer by turning down the option and making him a restricted free agent. (Update: Bryan Colangelo confirmed the Sixers will exercise McConnell’s option.)
  • After a rookie season in which he appeared in just 14 regular season games and three postseason contests, Markelle Fultz may be a candidate to play in Summer League for the 76ers this July. Keith Pompey explores that possibility in a story for The Philadelphia Inquirer.
  • ESPN’s Zach Lowe took an in-depth and interesting look at how the Sixers’ analytics department informs many of the club’s rotation and lineup decisions.

Sixers Notes: George, Brown, McConnell, Covington

The Sixers should pursue Paul George rather than LeBron James in free agency, contends Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post. George is a better fit, Bontemps argues, because he would allow Ben Simmons to remain the primary ballhandler. Simmons is accomplished in nearly every phase of the game except for shooting and wouldn’t be effective spotting up alongside James.

George not only adds another 3-point shooter, he is a top defender who would create a smothering combination with Robert Covington. He could also serve as a second playmaker in case Markelle Fultz can’t overcome the issues that sank his rookie season.

The other benefit is age, Bontemps notes, with George about five-and-a-half years younger than James. He showed an ability to adapt to a new situation in Oklahoma City and would have plenty of prime seasons left for Simmons and Joel Embiid to develop as players.

There’s more today out of Philadelphia:

  • An extension for coach Brett Brown should be the Sixers’ first move of the offseason, writes Bobby Marks of ESPN (Insider account). Brown is entering the final season of the extension he signed in 2015 and deserves to be rewarded for the adversity he has guided the franchise through, Marks argues.
  • The Sixers will be taking a risk if they exercise T.J. McConnell‘s $1.6MM option for next season, Marks adds in the same story. While that would be an easy way to preserve cap room, it would also make him an unrestricted free agent next summer. The alternative is to decline his option and extend a qualifying offer, which would throw him into restricted free agency right away. His price will go up — Marks estimates about $4MM to $5MM annually — but the Sixers can match any offer and lock him up for the long term. McConnell becomes eligible for an extension in July and can have his salary for next season negotiated with cap space beginning September 22.
  • Covington didn’t live up to his four-year, $62MM extension in the playoffs, writes Marcus Hayes of The Philadelphia Inquirer. After starting 80 games in the regular season, Covington was replaced in the starting lineup by McConnell and fell behind Justin Anderson in the rotation. The playoffs may have redefined several players’ roles, Hayes notes, and it’s possible that Covington isn’t a good fit anymore.
  • The Sixers are holding their exit interviews today, with much of the focus on the free agents. J.J. Redick, who signed a one-year deal last summer, will consider money, the chance to win and closeness to home when deciding on his next move, tweets Rich Hoffman of The Athletic. “This was probably my favorite year of my career. … Playing in Philly is its own experience. The buzz about this team was amazing,” Redick said (Twitter link from Derek Bodner of The Athletic). “We all hope that I am back. The [contract] numbers can get tricky. It’s not my job to worry about that.” (Twitter link).

Sixers Notes: Embiid, McConnell, Redick, LeBron

Sixers center Joel Embiid will begin doing light cardio work as the first step toward returning from a fractured orbital bone, relays Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Embiid attended Friday night’s game, making his first appearance since having surgery March 31. Surgeons are examining him each day and are happy with his progress, Pompey adds, with “non-contact cardiovascular exertion steps” being planned to help him get through the league’s concussion protocol.

The Sixers didn’t let Embiid speak to reporters, but he watched his teammates during warmups and sank a few 3-pointers. He has missed five games since colliding with Markelle Fultz on March 28, and his prognosis calls for him to return in another one to three weeks.

  • T.J. McConnell‘s playing time has nosedived since Fultz returned from his injury, Pompey notes in a separate story. The reserve point guard was on the court for just 5 minutes and 27 seconds Friday against the Cavaliers, the second-shortest stint of his three-year career. The Sixers have a $1.6MM team option on McConnell for next season that must be exercised by June 29.
  • As one of the few Sixers with playoff experience, J.J. Redick will have an important role once the postseason begins next weekend, Pompey writes in another piece. This will mark the 12th straight playoff appearance for Redick, who has played 88 games with the Magic, Bucks and Clippers. The only other players in Philadelphia’s rotation with a playoff history are Marco Belinelli (48 games), Amir Johnson (42) and Ersan Ilyasova (23).
  • Sixers fans will be happy to hear that LeBron James paid them a compliment after Friday’s game, according to Marc Narducci of The Philadelphia Inquirer“They love their team, they love their ball club. They come out and support,” he said. “Obviously riding the winning streak, you know, and also you add in Villanova and you add in the Eagles, obviously that helps as well but it has always been kind of rowdy coming here.” Philadelphia has been rumored as a possible destination for James when he hits free agency this summer.

Sixers Sign Demetrius Jackson To Two-Way Deal

4:58pm: The signing is official, per team release.

4:42pm: The Sixers will sign guard Demetrius Jackson to a two-way contract and release forward James Michael McAdoo, Shams Charania of The Vertical tweets.

Jackson signed a two-way deal with the Rockets during the offseason after the Celtics waived him. Houston terminated Jackson’s contract and then signed him to a 10-day deal earlier this month. However, he did not figure in the Rockets’ plans and the 10-day deal bought him and his representatives time to find a better situation.

The 6’1” point guard made 12 cameo appearances with the Rockets, playing an average of 5.3 MPG. The Notre Dame product played five games for Boston last season after being selected in the second round as the No. 45 overall pick in 2016.

He’ll provide depth behind T.J. McConnell, Jerryd Bayless and top pick Markelle Fultz, who has been plagued by shoulder woes in his rookie campaign.

McAdoo signed a two-way contract with Philadelphia in late August but appeared in just three games.

Atlantic Notes: Morris, Celtics, Crabbe, McConnell

Celtics forward Marcus Morris will be back in action today after missing eight games with a left knee injury, tweets Jeff Goodman of ESPN. The knee has been an issue all season, as soreness caused him to miss the first eight games of the season. Morris is excited about the holiday matchup against the Wizards and his twin brother Markieff. “This has to be history,” Marcus Morris said. “First twins to play on Christmas against each other.”

There’s more news from the Atlantic Division:

  • The Celtics‘ heated rivalry with Washington may not be the same after Boston’s offseason roster shakeup, writes Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald. The teams staged a contentious seven-game semifinal series in last year’s playoffs that seemed to cement a long-standing bitterness. But many of those Celtics are gone, Bulpett notes, and today’s game features not only a reunion of the Morris twins but a meeting of Jayson Tatum and Bradley Beal, two St. Louis natives who frequently encourage each other on social media. “We never hated anybody,” said Marcus Smart, one of the Celtics’ holdovers from last season. “I don’t think nobody really hates anybody. As a competitor, you just want to go out there and do everything you can to win. This game is 80 percent mental, and if you can get under your opponent’s skin early, you did half the battle.”
  • Allen Crabbe hasn’t provided the 3-point shooting the Nets expected when they traded for him, notes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Brooklyn acquired Crabbe from Portland this summer, finally securing a player the organization signed to a four-year, $83MM offer sheet in 2016. A career 42% shooter from long distance, Crabbe has dipped to 36% since joining the Nets. “It happens. For me the biggest focus is stop settling so much,” Crabbe said. “I know I said the ‘shooters shoot’ quote, and we do. But me trying to find easier ones as well would help the confidence.”
  • Sixers coach Brett Brown was thrilled by T.J. McConnell‘s 15-point performance in today’s win over the Knicks, tweets Jessica Camerato of NBC Sports Philadelphia. The backup point guard, who has a $1.6MM team option for next season, has become a personal project for his coach. “He wears his heart on his sleeve,” Brown said. “I have a very antagonistic relationship with him. I coach him harder than I coach anybody. I’m so proud of him coming out of left field, being in the NBA, staying in the NBA and now playing in the NBA.”

Atlantic Notes: Kanter, McConnell, Russell

Despite having missed the last two games with back spasms, Enes Kanter remains committed to trying to play Monday night, Al Iannazzone of Newsday writes. The 25-year-old wants to get back out on the court for the Knicks even if he’s not quite 100% ready.

I might not be a hundred percent, but I think I’m going to try and play,” the Knicks’ center said. “I play with pain probably 95 percent of the season every season. If they think it’s not going to affect me in the long run, I’ll play. It doesn’t matter.

Of course the Knicks won’t make any irresponsible decisions with their prized new big man. Kanter is averaging 13.6 points and 10.2 rebounds per game so far this season.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • For the third straight year, Sixers guard T.J. McConnell is proving that he’s an overlooked – and underpaid – asset. Keith Pompey of The Inquirer writes that the 25-year-old guard proved himself all over again as a substitute starter for the injured Ben Simmons this weekend. McConnell makes just $1.4MM this season.
  • Although he remains inactive without a timetable, injured guard D’Angelo Russell will join the Nets on their upcoming road trip, Anthony Puccio of Nets Daily writes. The offseason addition will be called upon to help lead from the sidelines and stay engaged with the group.
  • With some of the best length in the NBA, Kristaps Porzingis could be a nightmare for opposing teams in the paint. Per Marc Berman of the New York Post, legendary big man Hakeem Olajuwon would like to mentor the 7’3″ Knicks forward whose current Dream Shake leaves much to be desired.

Sixers Notes: Okafor, Holmes, McConnell, Fultz

The Sixers refuse to negotiate a buyout with Jahlil Okafor in part because they don’t want the Celtics to get him for free, writes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Philadelphia has held trade talks with Boston about the third-year center, dating back to last season. The Celtics were recently awarded an $8.4MM disabled player exception and would probably pounce on Okafor if he hits the open market.

In addition, Pompey notes, the Sixers have a history of trying to get something in exchange for their players, even when their future clearly is no longer in Philadelphia. As an example, he cites Evan Turner, who was in the same situation as Okafor four years ago. The Sixers decided in October not to pick up Turner’s option, but he remained on the roster until the February deadline, when he was dealt to Indiana. Pompey suggests that if Philly can’t find an acceptable deal for Okafor, he could face a long wait until he plays again.

There’s more news out of Philadelphia:

  • Richaun Holmes, who made his season debut Friday night, gives the Sixers a needed boost to their interior defense, Pompey adds in a separate story. Now recovered from a fractured bone in his left wrist, Holmes limited the Pacers to six points in the paint while he was in the game. Coach Brett Brown says Amir Johnson remains the primary backup to Joel Embiid, but Pompey believes Holmes will challenge for playing time. “Richaun gave us a lot of energy and I’m glad to have him back,” Embiid said.
  • T.J. McConnell has managed to contribute this season, even though Ben Simmons has been given control of the offense, according to David Murphy of The Philadelphia Inquirer. McConnell, who started 51 games at point guard last season, has been moved to a reserve role and has been effective when paired with Simmons in the backcourt.
  • The oddest story surrounding the Sixers this year has involved first-round pick Markelle Fultz, writes Ken Berger of Bleacher Report. After playing well during summer league, Fultz reported to training camp in September with a changed shooting motion and was recently diagnosed with scapular muscle imbalance in his right shoulder. Former Lakers strength and conditioning coach Tim DiFrancesco said scapular imbalance isn’t painful and is a common condition in the NBA. “It certainly can lead to some structural pathology and pain issues,” DiFrancesco said. “But that in itself is not going to immediately, directly, equal pain.”