By Sean Kennedy (@PhillyFastBreak)
The Sixers announced yesterday that they had signed former UCLA and Minnesota Timbewolves guard Malcolm Lee; terms are yet to be disclosed but the deal is surely largely unguaranteed. Lee’s signing brings the team to the maximum 20 players on the training camp roster, bad news for anyone hoping the Sixers would give another look to Sean Kilpatrick or another untested young player. Drafted in the 2nd round and traded on draft night to Minnesota, the 6’5″ Lee saw limited minutes across two seasons, before not playing at all last year while undergoing rehab following two surgeries on his hip and right knee. He then played a total of 26 minutes across two games for the Raptors in Vegas this past summer, scoring a grand total of 4 points. Apparently, that was all the Sixers needed to see to bring him aboard.
UCLA experimented with Lee at point guard, and while it didn’t work out, he definitely has good handle and distributing skills for a shooting guard. He also has good size and length for the position, and a fair amount of athleticism, as you can see here with a throw down on Tyrus Thomas:
It remains to be seen how much of that athleticism Lee has left following the multiple surgeries. Still, the main reason Lee never blossomed into a rotational NBA player is a problem the Sixers are all too familiar with: he can’t shoot. Lee never shot better than 30.0% from three-point range during his three seasons as a Bruin, and despite reportedly overhauling his shot going into NBA workouts, he was still only 29.4% from behind the arc in limited action with the Timberwolves. For a player where ‘shooting’ is literally part of the title, this is not a good position to be in for Lee.
So Lee will join the bevy of Sixers young players who have displayed great athleticism during their careers but laid their share of bricks. They clearly think they can rework the shot on at least one or two of these guys, but whether the team will have any success remains to be seen. Given the fact that he’s coming off serious injuries and the limited investment the team has in him, I’d wager it’s a long shot for Lee to still be with the team come opening night in Indiana.
That being said, I did enjoy this video the Timberwolves put out of Lee and Derrick Williams going ice fishing. I’m sure two guys who grew up in California were thrilled to go out on a frozen lake in upstate Minnesota; this video is a perfect metaphor for why the Timberwolves have trouble attracting free agents. Maybe Derrick Williams’ career never worked out because he could only catch little baby fish.