CAMDEN, N.J. — If you have any doubts about whether players on two-way contracts matter or have value to a team, look no further than Shake Milton.
The Sixers signed the 22-year-old combo guard to a four-year NBA deal Tuesday after Milton impressed them by both starring in the G League and playing with poise when he received NBA minutes as a rookie.
With Milton called up and possibly in contention for backup point guard minutes this season, Norvel Pelle signed to a two-way deal and Haywood Highsmith waived, the team has one vacant two-way spot.
As a reminder, teams can have a maximum of two players under two-way contracts, in addition to a maximum of 15 players on the active roster. Players signed to two-way contracts can spend up to 45 days in a season with their NBA team and are not eligible to participate in the playoffs.
Here are four candidates:
Shooting will likely be the 6-foot-6 Shayok’s signature skill in the NBA. The 54th pick in this year’s draft, Shayok averaged 18.7 points and 4.9 rebounds as a redshirt senior at Iowa State and shot 38.6 percent from three-point range on 5.4 attempts per game, a substantial jump in production from his first three seasons in college at Virginia. He recognizes that his jumper is his easiest pathway toward contributing for the Sixers.
“I’ve always been a scorer and have developed my shot as years have gone by,” Shayok told NBC Sports Philadelphia on Wednesday. “I really just simplified my game, knowing that teams need shooting; I really wanted to work on that, especially the past two years at Iowa State.”
Shayok worked alongside Milton in several drills during the Sixers’ summer league minicamp, which ran through Monday through Wednesday.
Shake Milton and Marial Shayok in the same group, putting up some 3s on the move: pic.twitter.com/PY0u1nMvCT— Noah Levick (@NoahLevick) July 1, 2019
The 23-year-old comes across as polished and professional in his approach, though he admitted Monday that being on an NBA team is “surreal still.”
He said he hasn’t yet been given an indication of whether he’ll be on the NBA roster or receive a two-way contract.
“I have not,” he said. “I’m really just taking it a day at a time. Trying to get better, trying to be a sponge and whatever happens, happens. You've just got to try to win the day.”
Shayok, if he doesn't get an NBA deal this season, is the logical choice to take Milton’s spot.
If the Sixers want to lean into their new identity as a big, long, defensively-oriented team, Koumadje might make sense as a two-way player.
The 7-foot-4 Koumadje is aiming to be the first NBA player from the country of Chad. He’d surpass Boban Marjanovic as the tallest player currently in the league.
Koumadje impressed Sixers senior vice president of player personnel Marc Eversley with his defense and agility at a pre-draft workout on June 7.
Connor Johnson, the head coach of the Delaware Blue Coats and the Sixers’ summer league team this year, named Koumadje on Tuesday as a player who’s caught his attention.
“I would say Koumadje, as a rim protector,” he said. “Going against Norvel, that’s been a great battle. … It’s been good to watch both those guys.”
With Pelle already occupying a two-way spot, giving another center in Koumadje the other two-way would be an unorthodox choice. It wouldn’t be surprising if the Blue Coats targeted him early in the G League draft.
With Tobias Harris set to be a Sixer for at least five more years, would the team add another Harris brother to the organization?
Terry Harris played at three colleges and posted 8.1 points and 2.8 rebounds per game while shooting 41.1 percent from three-point territory last season at North Carolina A&T.
Perhaps, if he can convince the Sixers that his outside shooting is an elite skill, he’ll earn a two-way slot. Harris certainly has a clean, smooth and quick release with deep range, though he acknowledged Tuesday he’ll need to prove he can hold his own defensively in summer league, which begins Friday for the Sixers.
He’s thought plenty about playing with his older brother again for the first time since he was in eighth grade.
“Obviously it’s in the back of our heads,” he said. “If that could happen, I know we would both love it. I would love it. If that could happen, it would be a blessing. So hopefully, one day.”
The 6-foot-6 Dozier didn’t receive a qualifying offer this summer from the Celtics, making him an unrestricted free agent.
Though he’s played only eight NBA games in two seasons, Dozier has strong G-League credentials. He averaged 21 points per game last year for the Maine Red Claws and was named Third-Team All-G League.
Dozier’s shooting is the weakest part of his offensive game (31.2 percent from three-point range, 66.8 percent from the foul line in 2018-19), but he’s shown a knack for scoring and looks to have the length and athleticism to play defense in the NBA.
Though Shayok seems like the reasonable favorite, Dozier could be someone who takes the open two-way spot with a strong performance in summer league if Shayok ends up being signed to the Sixers’ roster.
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