If the NBA does ultimately resume its season at Walt Disney World, the Sixers’ fate will hinge mostly on players like Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Al Horford. The fringes of the roster are often interesting, though, and, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski and Bobby Marks, the NBA and NBPA have agreed upon roster rules for a resumption.
Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium reported Thursday that the league is expected to have a maximum roster size of 17, including players on two-way contracts. Players who have signed NBA or G-League contracts this season or in previous years would be eligible to sign new deals, per Charania. According to Wojnarowski and Marks, there will be a one-week period in late June in which teams can sign or waive a player. ESPN reported that playoff rosters will have 15 players, with 13 active and two inactive.
What would the implications of these roster rules be for the Sixers?
The team has 15 players on its active roster, plus a single player on a two-way contract in Marial Shayok. Norvel Pelle began the season on a two-way deal but was rewarded with an NBA contract in February after showcasing flashes of his ability as a shot blocker and lob finisher. Shayok has spent the majority of his rookie season with the Delaware Blue Coats in the G League, where he averaged 23 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game. With Shayok, Blue Coats head coach Connor Johnson emphasized defensive pressure and consistency, as well as setting up his teammates. He’s a diverse, natural scorer.
Will Shayok travel to Disney World?
“It’s still early in the stages. They’re still trying to figure out,” the 24-year-old told Travis Hines of The Ames Tribune. “They told me they’re going to keep me updated. I don’t really know too much information about that.”
As a two-way player, Shayok would typically not be eligible for the playoffs. It's unclear whether that will be the case in Orlando. Even if two-way players were eligible, it seems unlikely he'd be one of the 13 active members of the Sixers' postseason roster.
If they decided to waive anyone on the current roster, the Sixers would have the freedom to sign players outside of the organization. That means they could take a shot on a well-known name like JR Smith. Free agents such as Tyler Johnson, Allen Crabbe and Iman Shumpert would be other possibilities.
Bringing back Trey Burke or Jonah Bolden, who were waived in February to make room for Alec Burks and Glenn Robinson III, would also be an option in the event that the team opened up a roster spot. However, Brett Brown appeared comfortable before the league’s hiatus using Burks and Josh Richardson as backup ball handlers. Though Burke did have some bright moments in which he provided a unique burst, the 6-foot-guard was clearly not a panacea for the Sixers’ shot creation issues.
Overall, it seems improbable that an addition could swing the season, especially for a team like the Sixers without an open roster spot. We are, however, in the midst of a very strange year, with players potentially on the verge of entering an unprecedented “bubble” environment. Wojnarowski reported that a faction of players have recently held “conference calls to discuss uncertainty about restarting the season.” There could be replacement players for those who opt against participating, according to Wojnarowski, as well as for players who test positive for COVID-19 or sustain injuries.
This is obviously uncharted territory. If the league goes ahead with the season, it’s not impossible that a player added to a team in late June could make an important impact.
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