According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Philadelphia 76ers are no longer listening to T.J. McConnell trade offers. Is that a mistake?
The Markelle Fultz saga continues to drag on, with the former No. 1 pick expected to see more specialists early next week. For the time being, that leaves T.J. McConnell as the Philadelphia 76ers‘ only option behind Ben Simmons.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Sixers recently stopped listening to trade overtures for the 26-year-old point guard. McConnell is averaging 4.1 points and 2.6 assists in 15.1 minutes per game this season, but his playing time has been more consistent in Fultz’s absence.
While McConnell doesn’t provide a ton of value on the court, keeping him makes sense. He’s a steady hand, hard-nosed defender and someone who understands the offense. You can’t underrate familiarity, especially from a coaching perspective.
On the Ryen Russillo Podcast, however, Woj dropped another nugget on McConnell. He said the Sixers could get a first-round pick for the Arizona product, which is somewhat surprising given the current trade market.
In a vacuum, McConnell probably isn’t worth a first-round pick. He can’t really shoot, lacks defensive versatility, and provides minimal value off the ball. Effort and decision-making can go a long way, but T.J. has severe limitations.
The Sixers can probably get similar, if not better production from Fultz in the second unit. While the 20-year-old has more downside, the inverse is also true. Fultz on a good night is better than McConnell on a good night.
But right now, Fultz’s status is uncertain. He might not step on the floor anytime soon, depending on what doctors do (or don’t) uncover in his weeks-long hiatus. If Fultz continues to hold out, McConnell is the only backup point guard on the roster (aside from the two-way contracts).
As long as the Sixers are looking to compete, keeping a decent reserve behind Simmons is necessary. It’s tough to justify trading McConnell if Fultz isn’t playing, unless the Sixers are getting another backup point guard in return.
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In theory, the Sixers should have little issue getting another backup point guard. There are several (better) options on the trade market, something the Sixers should explore. That’s definitely true if Fultz gets moved in the process.
The hang-up, however, might come in the locker room. McConnell has been a blessing to the Sixers’ culture ever since joining the team. He works hard, fist bumps Jimmy Butler on the sidelines, and is a fan (and team) favorite.
Even though he lacks the natural talent of most players, McConnell’s presence off the court has legitimate value. He’s someone the Sixers want to keep around, for obvious reasons. With that said, there’s always a price tag. McConnell for a first-round pick should receive very serious consideration.
Entering free agency in the summer, the Sixers might lose McConnell if another team offers him significant money. The market price for undersized, non-shooting point guards shouldn’t be high, but Matthew Dellavedova is making over $9 million, so you never know.
Right now, the Sixers are essentially holding onto McConnell as a Fultz safety valve. If the latter doesn’t play, the former can step in and fill the void. In the postseason, Brett Brown will probably have more confidence in McConnell, to boot.