76ers

Sixers sign high-flying center Norvel Pelle to two-way contract

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USA Today Images/Bill Streicher

Sixers sign high-flying center Norvel Pelle to two-way contract

Updated: 1:39 p.m. 

Size and defense have materialized as two prominent themes for the Sixers in the first two days of free agency.

The Sixers' latest two-way player, Norvel Pelle, brings both those qualities to the table. The 26-year-old Pelle, who played for the Delaware Blue Coats last season, is heading to the NBA, his agent, BJ Bass, announced Monday night.

The team made it official on Tuesday. Bass told NBC Sports Philadelphia that it's a one-year contract.

As a two-way player, Pelle won't be able to spend more than 45 days with the Sixers and will not be eligible for the playoffs. That means he should still be a frequent attraction at 76ers Fieldhouse in Wilmington, Delaware.

Pelle is a sensational rim protector, a high-leaping, high-energy 6-foot-11 center who made the G League's All-Defensive Team in 2018-19. His offensive game is not expansive, with lobs a notable hallmark. He averaged 11.1 points, 8.6 rebounds and 3.0 blocks per game last season.

He said Tuesday that the two-way deal is "exciting."

"It's another chapter," Pelle said. "Another way to start working toward my other goal," of making the active roster. 

A native of St. John's, Antigua and Barbuda, Pelle has had an unorthodox route to the NBA. His stops along the way included a stint with the Delaware 87ers in 2013-14 and professional experience in Taiwan and Italy.

Before that, Pelle's path was also uncommon as he never played college basketball because of eligibility issues. He has experience playing for the Lebanese national team. 

“It helped me because I didn’t get a chance to go to college. … I went overseas. Being over there by myself, I had to mature quick," Pelle said. "That helped me to come over to the states. Whereas if I was to go to college, I’d still have that little baby inside of me. This has helped me to mature. You know certain things aren’t going to go your way and you control what you can control.” 

Shake Milton was the Sixers' other player under a two-way contract, but the team is signing him a four-year NBA deal, a team source told NBC Sports Philadelphia on Tuesday night (see story). That leaves the Sixers with one open two-way spot.

Both Milton and Pelle are participating in the Sixers' summer league minicamp, which runs through Wednesday. The team's first game of summer league is Friday in Las Vegas at 3:30 p.m. against the Bucks. 

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Zhaire Smith has a clear goal for his first full NBA season with the Sixers

Zhaire Smith has a clear goal for his first full NBA season with the Sixers

Zhaire Smith has packed on some pounds this summer, most recently weighing in at 212 as he continues to grind in the weight room over the offseason.

“I’ve got a lot of goals, especially in the weight room, to get bigger, stronger and faster,” Smith said at the Sixers Summer Shore Tour in Wildwood, New Jersey.

There’s a reason that when you ask Smith about his goals this summer, he always makes a reference to the weight room.

After a severe allergic reaction nearly takes away your entire rookie season, leaving you in a hospital for weeks and with feeding tubes for months, gaining back the 40 pounds (and some) you lost becomes a pretty important goal.

“With all I’ve been through the past 12 months, and it’s been a crazy ride, a lot of bumps in the road, but we here now and I’m not looking back.”

If that crazy ride he’s been on has taught him one thing, it’s this:

“I know not to take the game for granted and work hard every day, like it’s my last.”

If you talk to those around Smith, you’ll find out quickly that working hard isn’t something the young guard takes lightly. He also knows that minutes aren’t going to be handed to him, and he’s ready to get to work.

“To get in the rotation, play hard and just do what I do and have fun with it,” Smith said of his goals this season.

Smith is also looking forward to practices and bonding with his new teammates.

“It’s going to be competitive. I can see it right now, that practice is going to be really intense and we are just going to go at it.”

On top of that, Smith is ready to soak up all the knowledge he can, especially on the defensive end.

“I’m looking forward to asking questions and learning, so it’s going to be a fun ride. I believe we are all going to bond together really quick and have a fun time.”

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Sixers Talk podcast: John Gonzalez on the Sixers' offseason and Brett Brown appreciation

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NBA Sports Philadelphia/USA Today Images

Sixers Talk podcast: John Gonzalez on the Sixers' offseason and Brett Brown appreciation

John Gonzalez joins Paul Hudrick for a lively conversation about the craziest NBA offseason ever and a moment to appreciate Brett Brown.

2:00: Craziest move of the craziest NBA offseason.
5:15: Keep Ben and Jo together.
12:12: Are the Sixers better of just different?
20:30: How to handle Joel Embiid and DNPs.
25:55: Is the East a two-team race or are the Celtics a threat?
30:13: Sorry, haters: Just a segment appreciating Brett Brown.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Sixers