Sixers signing Kenneth Lofton Jr. to two-way deal
The Sixers are signing big man Kenneth Lofton Jr. to a two-way contract, a source confirmed to 97.3 ESPN on Saturday.
To make room for Lofton Jr., the Sixers are reportedly waiving guard Javonte Smart from his two-way deal.
Lofton, who is not related to former MLB center fielder Kenny Lofton, went undrafted in 2022 out of Louisiana Tech.
He spent a season-and-change on a two-way deal with the Memphis Grizzlies, who waived him this week as star guard Ja Morant returned from a 25-game suspension.
There are obvious warts that would cause a player with his talent to have to work on a two-way contract. He has the height of a wing (different resources give different measurements), but the weight of a big man (275 pounds). So, you question whether he has the motor to play extended stretches of meaningful minutes. You also wonder if he can get in shape and stay in shape, even if he's not playing every night.
His body type mandates that he defend bigger players, but he doesn't have the height to be a rim-protector. So, the issues go beyond just his conditioning.
But, Lofton is a very crafty big who knows how to throw around his size inside. He's surprisingly agile as a self-creator, and can maneuver his way through traffic for scores at the rim. When he's not countering post defenders with sweet footwork, Lofton is leveraging his physicality to keep possessions alive with effort on the offensive glass. He played just 113 minutes last season, but ranked in the 85th percentile of bigs in offensive rebound rate on field goal attempts.
Unless he turns more of that weight into muscle mass, it will likely be difficult for him to maintain effective play as a pure low-post scorer and elbow attacker. His jumper will need to come around if he's going to stick without improving his fitness all that much. His shot is mechanically sound, and he's already taken as many threes this season as he did all of last season.
Lofton is one of the most talented guys you'll find on a two-way contract. It's a no-risk flyer that actually has some interesting upside, which is more than you can say for many two-way signees.