Philadelphia 76ers Bid Farewell to T.J. McConnell
This week officially marked the end of an era for the Philadelphia 76ers. After years of the teams' famous "process" slowly fading away, one of the last men standing began a new era elsewhere. Sixers' center Joel Embiid might literally be the face of "The Process" at this point in time -- but former Sixers' guard, T.J. McConnell survived the tough times of the Sam Hinkie/Bryan Colangelo-led Sixers for much longer than expected.
The unexpected McConnell era began in 2015 when the Arizona guard went undrafted and landed on an underperforming 76ers squad. McConnell wasn't expected to be a budding star when he threw on his Sixers' Summer League uniform, but he played just well enough to land on the teams' roster when the season tipped off.
In today's Sixers era, the chances of a young and undrafted guard out of Arizona landing on the final roster would be a longshot. At that time, though, the Sixers didn't have much to lose. McConnell received his opportunities and fought hard. Though the Sixers were clearly the bottom of the barrel in the NBA, McConnell wouldn't lose motivation.
As he gave a one-hundred percent effort during every minute spent on the floor, he eventually established himself as a heartfelt leader and a hard worker. After four years in the NBA with the Sixers, McConnell leaves on an excellent note. As he embodies a tough, blue-collar working attitude, which wins over Philadelphia 99-percent of the time, McConnell's legacy in Philly will forever be remembered by the city.
After a critical offseason, the Sixers did somewhat of a roster shakeup. They've replaced two out of five starters, and only retained a couple of bench players, who were willing to return from last season. And although the Sixers had interest in bringing McConnell back into the mix, he ultimately landed with the Indiana Pacers.
The Sixers slowly began to fade away from utilizing McConnell as a primary backup at the guard position over the last two years. As he sought out an opportunity to earn more money and minutes elsewhere, McConnell enters his next stint with the Pacers, where he hopes to win some significant time off the bench.
Right now, McConnell is rumored to be viewed as more of a veteran presence and motivator, rather than a contributor. But at this point, it should be pretty clear that the veteran guard won't settle for anything. While he is open to whichever role he is gifted, he will always strive for more. McConnell will be missed in Philadelphia. Now, it's time for him to embark on a new journey in Indiana officially.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for South Jersey's 97.3 ESPN. You can follow Justin on Twitter: @JGrasso_