Sixers Exercise Options on McConnell, Holmes
The NBA Draft is just over a week away and free agency kicks off on July 1. The Philadelphia 76ers will likely be active in the free agency market to bring in outside talent, they made the decision to take care of some internal talent on Wednesday morning, exercising the fourth-year options on both Richaun Holmes and T.J. McConnell for the 2018-19 season.
McConnell's story is a good one and he dove into it during an episode of JJ Redick's podcast in February. T.J. was the last invite to the 2015 NBA Draft Combine. While studying for finals in his senior year at Arizona, he got a call from his agent that he had to pay his way to Chicago for the combine. In case someone dropped out, he was going to get a chance. Luckily for McConnell, someone dropped out and he got an opportunity to show NBA teams what he was made of at that time. While most prospects met with multiple teams for nearly 2-3 hours, McConnell met with just one team - the Atlanta Hawks. His name wasn't called on draft night, but just a few hours after the conclusion of the draft, McConnell got a call from Sam Hinkie and Brett Brown. The rest is history.
"It's hard to put into words, really, to go from 10 wins to where we're at right now," said McConnell. "You gotta give credit to everyone that's been involved in the front office, the players that have played here and the players we have now. "
In 238 games for the Sixers, McConnell has averaged 6.4 points, 5.1 assists and 3.1 rebounds in just under 23 minutes per game. T.J. started his first career playoff game during the Eastern Conference Semifinals and scored 19 points in that game, the only one Philadelphia won against Boston. In February, McConnell became the first Sixers player to ever notch a triple-double off the bench, posting 10 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists against the Knicks. The celebration from his teammates showed how respected he is in the locker room and his style of play has made him one of the most loved Process players we've seen in Philadelphia.
Picking up Richaun Holmes' option may come as a surprise to some considering his role, or lack thereof, in Brett Brown's rotation last season. Also, many expect the Sixers to try and clear as much cap room as possible, but not to worry. Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice reports that Holmes' option is non-guaranteed so it gives the team flexibility to shed his contract if need be.
In 48 games last season, Holmes averaged 6.5 points and 4.4 rebounds per game, shooting 56 percent from the floor. It goes without saying that Richaun is a fan-favorite, likely due to his flashiness on the court, whether it be an emphatic dunk or impressive block. Even with his athleticism, Holmes struggled on the defensive side of the ball for the majority of the season, which put him in the No. 3 center spot for the most part. Brett Brown opted to go with Amir Johnson as Joel Embiid's primary back-up and though the veteran big man lacked offense, he was a stable defender all season.
Although the Sixers decided to pick up Holmes' option, it doesn't guarantee a role or a spot on the team. As mentioned earlier, it is a non-guaranteed option, so if Jonah Bolden comes over from Maccabi, Holmes may have a tougher time getting on the floor or on the active roster. Richaun's $1.6 million contract could potentially be used as a trade piece too since it is affordable and he still has the talent to become a solid back-up big man in the NBA. Even with the Sixers exercising the option, expect them to look towards free agency to add another veteran big man like they did with Amir Johnson.