Terry Harris

Sixers sign and then waive Shizz Alston Jr., Terry Harris for purpose of adding them to Delaware Blue Coats

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Sixers sign and then waive Shizz Alston Jr., Terry Harris for purpose of adding them to Delaware Blue Coats

Updated: 2:27 p.m.

The 2019-20 Delaware Blue Coats are shaping up to be a fascinating team.

The Sixers are signing and then waiving Terry Harris, Shizz Alston Jr., Julian Washburn, Jared Brownridge and Xavier Munford with the purpose of adding them to the Blue Coats. Harris' deal is an Exhibit 9 contract.

Terry Harris is the younger brother of Sixers forward Tobias Harris, whom the team re-signed to a five-year, $180 million contract this summer. Terry played for the Sixers this year in summer league and scored nine points in three games. The 6-foot-6 wing worked out with the Sixers in June and said "it would be a blessing" to play with Tobias for the first time since eighth grade. As a redshirt senior at North Carolina A&T, Terry averaged 8.1 points per game and shot 41.1 percent from three-point range. Outside shooting is his trademark skill.

Alston grew up in Philadelphia and attended The Haverford School before going to Temple, where he played for four years. The point guard had an excellent senior season, leading Temple to a 23-10 record and averaging 19.7 points and 5.0 assists per game. Like Harris, he had a pre-draft workout for the Sixers. Alston played with the Indiana Pacers in summer league and scored 24 points across three contests.

The 6-foot-8 Washburn has 136 career games of experience in the G League, including 38 last season between the Austin Spurs and Memphis Hustle. He signed a two-way contract with the Grizzlies in January and appeared in 18 NBA games last year, averaging 2.2 points and 2.3 rebounds. Washburn was part of the trade between the Grizzlies and Warriors in July involving Andre Iguodala, and was later waived by Golden State.

Brownridge, who played his college ball at Santa Clara, played 49 games (27 starts) with the Blue Coats last season. He led the G-League in threes made with 187.

Munford spent last season with the Milwaukee Bucks G-League affiliate, the Wisconsin Herd. He's also played in China and Spain after his collegiate career at Rhode Island ended.

In addition to Washburn, Alston, Harris, Brownridge and Munford, 7-foot-3 Christ Koumadje, Saint Joseph's product Isaiah Miles and Haywood Highsmith are candidates for the Blue Coats this season. Those three players were part of the Sixers' preseason roster and will be waived (see story).

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Zhaire Smith 2.0, Matisse Thybulle's defense, Shake Milton at point guard and more to watch with Sixers in summer league

Zhaire Smith 2.0, Matisse Thybulle's defense, Shake Milton at point guard and more to watch with Sixers in summer league

Basketball is almost back.

Amid the free-agency frenzy, the Sixers held their summer league minicamp from Monday through Wednesday at their facility in Camden, New Jersey. The team is now in Las Vegas, with its first game set for Friday afternoon.

Their full schedule is below: 

Friday, July 5: Sixers-Bucks, 3:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
Saturday, July 6: Sixers-Celtics, 5:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Monday, July 8: Sixers-Thunder, 3 p.m. (ESPNU)
Wednesday, July 10: Sixers-Pistons, 3 p.m. (NBA TV)

And here are a few storylines worth watching:

Zhaire Smith 2.0

The resilient, relentless Zhaire Smith endured plenty in his rookie season (see story). He returns to summer league eager to compete defensively and continue growing confidence in a jumper he had to rebuild after losing approximately 40 pounds following a severe allergic reaction.

Smith's explosiveness didn’t magically return all at once either.

“[Body] went through a whole lot,” Smith said Monday. “It took my athleticism. When I first came back, I tried to dunk and that didn’t work very well. I had to rebuild all of that again, but now I’m all good.”

Smith’s shot, which he gradually reconstructed with the help of player development coach Tyler Lashbrook, looks as it did at the tail end of last season — a good sign for someone seeking consistency. There’s a clear emphasis on proper footwork and extending his follow through. 

From the Sixers’ perspective, Smith’s defensive talent would seem to fit well on a team that’s staked its identity on that side of the ball. 

Zhaire’s exciting to me,” said Connor Johnson, the head coach of the Delaware Blue Coats and Sixers’ summer league team. “He’s a guy that’s getting better every day. Getting so much stronger and really becoming comfortable in his body. And you can see his athletic ability, especially on the defensive end. He’s got an unbelievable ability, in my opinion, to stay in front of the ball, fight through screens and be an on-ball, point-of-attack defender.

A defensive duo 

You don’t have to stretch to find the similarities between Smith and Matisse Thybulle, the 20th pick in this year’s draft.

Unsurprisingly, it didn’t take long for the two to form a connection. 

“For me, it’s really cool playing with Zhaire because me and him are really similar players,” Thybulle said Tuesday. “Having him be such a good defender and already knowing what to do, he’s someone I’ve been watching, looking up to and trying to kind of mimic his game — follow in his footsteps a little.” 

The two were part of the same group in various drills at the end of practices and are starting to build a relationship.

Like with Smith, Thybulle’s jump shot is something to monitor. He shot 35.8 percent from three-point range in his four seasons at the University of Washington but dipped to 30.5 percent as a senior.

An initial impression with Thybulle’s shot is that he seems to have success when he’s in rhythm and has his feet set. 

Smith, Johnson and Shake Milton all praised Thybulle’s active hands and sharp instincts defensively. 

“Man, he gets in the passing lanes like crazy,” Milton said Wednesday. “You’ve got to be careful — you can’t really be loose with the ball around him. Quick to the ball, he’s active and he makes it tough on you.”

The Sixers' backup point guard? 

Though the Sixers signed veteran Raul Neto to a one-year deal Wednesday, Milton should still have an opportunity to earn minutes this season.

The 22-year-old, who received a four-year NBA contract Tuesday, can play both guard spots and shoots a well-balanced, uncomplicated jumper.

Milton had the ball in his hands a lot with the Blue Coats, and Johnson said a key part of summer league for Milton will be further demonstrating his abilities as a point guard. 

“The best thing we can do for Shake and for the Sixers is show his versatility,” Johnson said Monday. “Show that he can play in multiple ways. He can play off the ball; he can play with the ball; he can play in more of a scoring role; he can play as more of a facilitator. We’re just trying, for all of our guys, to expand their skill set, expand their versatility, so they have multiple options for themselves, and then also for our program.”

Before the draft, as inquisitive reporters watched Milton working out at the Sixers’ facility and wondered what was next for the SMU product, general manager Elton Brand said, “I haven’t seen a player so excited to play in summer league.”

Milton, who missed last year’s summer league with a stress fracture in his back, explained Tuesday why that’s the case.

“I mean, I didn’t get to play last year,” he said. “It sucked having to sit there and watch everybody out there practicing and having fun. Summer league is such a great opportunity to get together and play, so I’m excited.”

Others to watch 

Smith, Thybulle and Milton are three of the 14 players on the Sixers’ summer league roster. 

Norvel Pelle, a recent recipient of a two-way contract, second-round pick Marial Shayok and Terry Harris, the sharpshooting younger brother of Tobias Harris, are three others to watch.

High-scoring guard PJ Dozier and 7-foot-4 Christ Koumadje are also players of interest, and two possible candidates for the Sixers’ vacant two-way spot (see story).

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Four possible candidates to fill Sixers' vacant two-way spot after Shake Milton receives NBA deal

Four possible candidates to fill Sixers' vacant two-way spot after Shake Milton receives NBA deal

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: 

Marial Shayok 

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. 

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.

Christ Koumadje

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. 

Terry Harris 

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.”

PJ Dozier 

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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