A Year Later: Grading The K.J. McDaniels Trade

Mar 9, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Houston Rockets guard K.J. McDaniels (32) dribbles the ball past Philadelphia 76ers guard Hollis Thompson (31) during the second quarter at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 9, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Houston Rockets guard K.J. McDaniels (32) dribbles the ball past Philadelphia 76ers guard Hollis Thompson (31) during the second quarter at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports /

After a year has passed, how has the K.J. McDaniels trade gone for the Philadelphia 76ers?

Unlike the 2016 trade deadline, the Sixers’ 2015 trade deadline was action packed and exciting. The deal that sent Michael Carter-Williams to Milwaukee in a three team deal that led the Sixers to receiving the Los Angeles Lakers’ protected first-round pick, and sent Bucks guard Brandon Knight to the Phoenix Suns made most of the headlines. There was, however, an intriguing last-minute deal where the Sixers sent the exciting rookie guard K.J. McDaniels to Houston in return for young guard Isaiah Canaan and a 2015 second-round pick. It’s been over a year since the trade, and a lot of aspects of the trade have played out in an interesting way. After McDaniels recently squared off against Philadelphia, it’s time to look back on the trade that was made over a year ago.

Since the trade, McDaniels has struggled to see minutes for the Rockets, in contrast to being an everyday player for the bottom-feeding Sixers. In his half season with Philadelphia, McDaniels averaged 25.4 minutes and 9.2 points per game over a 52 game stretch. He also had a 49.9 percent true shooting percentage. After the trade, McDaniels played just 10 games for Houston and missed the entire postseason with a wrist injury. McDaniels found himself hidden behind guards like James Harden, Patrick Beverley, Jason Terry, Pablo Prigioni, and Nick Johnson. McDaniels free agent value dramatically decreased, as he was looking for a big payday after overachieving play with the Sixers.

At the end of the season, McDaniels still got a fairly decent contract after not playing practically half a season. The Rockets signed McDaniels to a 3-year, $10 million dollar contract. Even with the contract, McDaniels has still seen just 4.5 minutes per game and has only played in 21 games (as of March 10th, 2016). McDaniels is still just 23-years old, but it is concerning that he has struggled to find a role with Houston.

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The Sixers ended up with Isaiah Canaan in the deal. Canaan played just 12 games with the Sixers in 2014-2015, before his season was ended by a foot injury. Canaan earned himself the opening day starting point guard position for the 2015-2016 season, however, and showed his scoring ability early on. Canaan has earned himself the label as a streaky shooter. He can put up great scoring numbers when he hits his outside shot, but shows a sometimes hindering shoot-first mentality. Canaan has also struggled defensively and with moving the ball, averaging just 2.6 assists per game. He has since lost his starting position to guard Ish Smith, but has excelled in the shooting guard position. Standing just 6’0″, Canaan will have to develop more of a facilitating mentality to find himself a role in the NBA.

The second-round pick the Sixers received from Houston was the Denver Nuggets’ pick. This gave the Sixers the 37th overall pick in the draft, which turned into forward Richaun Holmes. Holmes excited Sixers fans with excellent play in Summer League, but hasn’t been able to earn himself big-time minutes. Holmes is exactly the type of player that would excel in the “position-less league” the NBA is shifting towards. His length and athletic ability allows to play anywhere from small forward to center on both sides of the ball, in some lineups. He shows his athleticism with monster dunks, but has been limited while shooting from the outside. Holmes has a lot of tooling to do to his game to find himself on the Sixers’ roster in the future.


Rockets: D+

The Rockets gave up a pretty high second-round pick to swap Canaan for McDaniels, and so far it hasn’t panned out as planned. McDaniels is still a valuable defender off the bench (if he sees minutes), but he still has many limitations offensively, which has led to his lack of minutes. The Rockets have shown their interest to invest in the second-year guard with the 3-year deal, and McDaniels could serve as a key piece as the Rockets head towards somewhat of a retooling project in the next few years. For now, McDaniels has little to no contribution to any aspect of the team’s play, but it still was a worthy risk to take.

Sixers: C-

The Sixers did slightly better, but not by much. The 2-for-1 swap gives the Sixers the upper hand at this point, but the reality is that the two players the Sixers acquired will struggle to find a role — or even a roster spot — on next year’s squad. Canaan has proven to be more of a shooting guard instead of a point guard, but he is far from a formidable option in the starting lineup on the offensive end. With hopefully a huge turnover of guards for this Sixers’ team from this season to next, Canaan may be someone the Sixers look to let go of. Richaun Holmes will have a lot to overcome to even earn a roster spot next season. With Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel presumably returning, the additions of Joel Embiid and Dario Saric, along with any potential draftees, Holmes will struggle to find himself a role on the Sixers. Averaging 13.9 minutes per game this season, Holmes will have to build a niche into his game to prove his value of a player.

Next: Ish Smith Tapering Off Proves He's Not PG of Future

Both teams have flopped, so far, on taking advantage of the aspects they’ve obtained from this trade. The youth involved in this trade will still allow for a hidden gem to come out, but the window for that is slowly closing. A year later, if a winner has to be announced, the Sixers slightly edge out the Rockets in a trade that will probably prove to have no real positive impact on either team’s chase towards becoming the NBA’s elite teams.