It is easy to overlook the NBA’s two-way roster slot. It allows a team the ability to bring along a prospect without committing an NBA salary or a spot on the 15-man roster. As of this moment, the Philadelphia 76ers have 13 players signed for the 2019-20 season, not including one two-way slot, earned by Norvel Pelle.
With 13 guys signed to NBA contracts, this leaves two more spots open on the Sixers and one two-way slot unoccupied. The 76ers have a lot of depth, and their rotation is pretty set in stone, so let’s focus on what really matters; the 14 and 15th roster spot, as well as the final two-way contract.
Adding a Vet or Two?
According to sources close to The Painted Lines, the 76ers are hoping to add one of Kyle Korver or Thabo Sefolosha. If both of the aforementioned NBA vets are signed, then that rounds out the roster, leaving the two-way slot as the only available spot. Based on what I’ve heard, I don’t see both Korver and Sefolosha coming to Philly; and it’s not a guarantee that either of them will be in Philadelphia next season, but let’s just say the Sixers add one of the two.
With the addition of Korver or Sefolosha, the 76ers would then have one spot available. Some people around the league have mentioned that Philadelphia should leave that spot open for the buy-out market, however a lot can happen between now and 2020. For example, Jonah Bolden is a name that could be on the trade block, according to a league source.
With the addition of Kyle O’Quinn, along with Al Horford’s ability to play both the center and power forward positions – not to mention, Mike Scott, who will see plenty of minutes at the four off the bench – Jonah Bolden’s role with the team has become a lot murkier. Even Tobias Harris has the ability to slide to the power forward spot, which is Bolden’s position of strength. If the Sixers do decide to move on from Bolden for, let’s say, a future second rounder, then this would open up another slot for guard/forward depth.
The 15th Man
Back to the final two roster slots and the other two-way slot. If the Sixers end up signing Korver or Sefolosha, Marial Shayok should get serious consideration as the 15th man. Keep in mind, even if he is signed to an NBA contract, he can still spend most of his time in Delaware developing with Head Coach Connor Johnson and the Blue Coats. It’s about keeping these players and developing them. Key words: “Keeping these players.”
This brings up my argument. Some people, including myself, have insinuated that Shayok has all but signed a two-way deal, but as soon as Norvel Pelle inked his contract, this became more of a mystery. Shayok turns 24 years old in late July and seems to be a pretty polished player with most of his development and growth behind him. This is not to say that he can’t get better, but he is definitely further along than most rookies.
The Final Two-Way Spot
Now, back to the meaning of a two-way contract. This contract should be used for development, and the 76ers have a guy playing for their Las Vegas Summer League squad who is standing above the rest of the prospects, literally. His name is Christ Koumadje, and I have written about him already; and I have been very annoying on Twitter, lifting Christ’s name to the heavens.
Show me another player, not signed to an NBA contract, or even a two-way deal, with Koumadje’s size (7’4″), defensive potential, rebounding potential, and athleticism. It was on full display during Friday’s Summer League opener for the Sixers against the Milwaukee Bucks. Koumadje had 11 points, seven rebounds, and five blocks in 14 minutes. He affected drives while on defense, and he fit in well next to Shake Milton. Is Koumadje good right now? He isn’t. He has a lot to work on, such as staying out of foul trouble. But, the Sixers cannot allow Christ to leave them. If they do, they better start praying (these puns are too easy).
Keeping the Longest View
If you’re shooting this idea down because the Sixers already designated the other two-way slot to Norvel Pelle, another center, then you’re not thinking with a long lens, which is how you need to approach developing prospects. Right now, especially in Delaware, it isn’t about roster fit; it is about cultivating NBA professionals with the highest potential upside. If Koumadje can develop more NBA skills, and if the 76ers/Blue Coats give him the opportunity to learn the NBA game, they won’t be sorry.
What is there to lose? If it doesn’t work out, you’re not going to lose your job for taking a chance on a prospect with a two-way contract. However, if you pass up on this kid’s potential, just because Norvel Pelle is playing the same position and already signed to a two-way, then you better hope Christ isn’t putting up numbers for an NBA squad in 2022. That’d look worse than swinging and missing on him right now.
In conclusion, if I am Elton Brand (who said Marial Shayok would have a role with the team in a post-draft press conference), I’d sign Shayok to an NBA contract and stash him in Delaware. I’d then do my best to bring in Kyle Korver or Thabo Sefolosha to round out the NBA roster. Before the buy-out market gets going, I explore trades involving Jonah Bolden, which could result in an asset and an opening for a free agent signing, via contract buy-out. Lastly (and maybe this should be done first), the Sixers need to embrace Christ and sign him to a two-way. Give him time. Don’t mess this up.
To be continued on Twitter the next time Koumadje does something good in the Summer League…