By Sean Kennedy (@PhillyFastBreak)
I know this isn’t a universal feeling, but after a football weekend that consisted of last-minute defeats from the jaws of victory for both Penn State and the Eagles, I’m in dire need of something to cleanse my sports palette. Fortunately, we’re just one day away from the tip-off of the NBA season, which means teams were busy over the weekend making those last few adjustments to trim their rosters. For most teams, which players take up the last couple spots on the bench will be unlikely to impact the upcoming season. However, given the Sixers’ current situation, these are players who could very easily see major playing time over the course of the year.
Players who won’t be seeing playing time for Philadelphia (at least in the immediate future) include Drew Gordon, Malcolm Lee, and Ronald Roberts, as all three were released Saturday. Lee was the least surprising cut of the three as he barely saw preseason court time after being brought back in training camp. Gordon performed reasonably well as a Sixer, but plays a crowded position and as an older prospect than most of his former teammates, had less upside going forward. Roberts was likely the hardest cut of this trio, as he had a sparkling summer league, but his quad injury in camp killed his chances.
After those cuts, we expected the Sixers would need to release just two more players to reach the roster limit of 15. That is, until word came out late Saturday night that the team had signed free agent Malcolm Thomas to a deal. Thomas is a 6’9″ undersized power forward, extremely athletic, but without any shooting ability from the outside (stop me if you’ve heard this before, I swear I’m not copy and pasting from the write-up of 5 other guys on the roster). He’s seen limited action for 4 teams across 3 NBA seasons, most recently with the Jazz. He’s only played a total of 135 minutes (about 4 games worth of action) as a professional, so there’s not much of a conclusion to draw from his NBA numbers.
After one season at Pepperdine, Thomas transferred to San Diego State, where despite playing just two seasons, he finished as the second leading shot blocker in school history. In his final season as an Aztec, he recorded 11.4 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 2.0 blocks per game. The general consensus seems to be that Thomas is a legitimate NBA talent and an upgrade on the back half of the Sixers roster. I guess we’ll find out soon enough.
With the signing of Thomas, the Sixers now have to make three final cuts. The players on the final chopping block would appear to be from the foursome of Brandon Davies, Arnett Moultrie, Chris Johnson, and JaKarr Sampson. The deadline for the final roster is 5pm today, so we’ll know more before some of you reading this even get out of work today. Regardless, the Sixers are going to be cycling players in and out all season, so even for those players released today and over the weekend, it may not be the last time we see them in a Sixers uniform.