The Sixers are keeping Norvel Pelle around ... for now.
The team will not convert the 26-year-old center to an NBA contract, a team source tells NBC Sports Philadelphia. The Sixers are opting for flexibility ahead of the Feb. 6 trade deadline. If the team were to create space for Pelle by waiving a player on a minimum deal, Pelle's full NBA contract could complicate the salary cap situation in a possible trade.
With the 45 NBA days Pelle was allowed to spend under his two-way deal nearly up and Jan. 15 marking the final day players can sign two-way contracts, there appeared to be some urgency to make a decision. Instead, the team will be mindful of the remaining days on his deal. He's expected to be in the lineup Wednesday night.
The team is still open to converting Pelle's deal. If they choose to do so after the deadline, they can't sign another two-way player unless a player on a two-way deal with another team is waived. They could also trade for a player on a two-way contract.
Pelle, a G League First Team All-Defense selection last season with the Delaware Blue Coats, has impressed with a high-energy, fearless brand of rim protection. Brett Brown has compared his skills to those of former Sixer Nerlens Noel and the Rockets’ Clint Capela.
Look at what he can do,” Brown said Friday. “Just zoom into what is his skill set. What is his NBA skill set? And let’s start with here’s a rim protector, and then go to offense and say here’s a roller. Those two things are quite valuable. And he’s quite different to our team. Then you get into OK, who’s going to run the pick-and-roll with him? You’ve got Ben [Simmons] and [Josh Richardson] that are exceptional at doing that. You’ve got Norvel rolling behind that, you can see why we would look at him as, ‘That’s a young prospect that interests us a lot.’ I thought he was excellent tonight.
With Joel Embiid out because of a torn ligament in the ring finger of his left hand, Pelle has recently received the backup center minutes over veteran Kyle O’Quinn. In 11 NBA games, he’s averaged 2.7 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.4 blocks.
He never played college basketball because of eligibility problems and ventured to Italy, Lebanon, Taiwan and the G League before signing his two-way deal with the Sixers in July.
“It’s just knowing that this opportunity is once in a lifetime,” Pelle told NBC Sports Philadelphia on Dec. 14 after a three-block night vs. the Pelicans. “I worked hard to get here and I can’t mess up. So, just getting the jitters out — obviously there are going to be jitters regardless, but just meditating and staying positive throughout the whole thing.”
NBC Sports Philadelphia's Paul Hudrick contributed reporting to this story.
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