With multiple players currently subject to the NBA’s health and safety protocols, the Sixers have signed Tyler Johnson to a 10-day contract under the league’s hardship exemption. Johnson last played for Brooklyn in 2020-21, where he made 39 appearances (including three starts).
The 29-year-old Johnson has been around the block a few times already. This will mark his eighth NBA season. He provides the Sixers with an asset they quite frequently need — perimeter scoring — along with a healthy player who has genuine experience playing for contending franchises.
The Sixers will benefit in the short term from Tyler Johnson’s perimeter firepower
Given the construction of the Sixers’ roster, it’s unlikely Johnson lasts beyond the 10 days on his contract. There’s no player on the roster who can be reasonably dropped, and the chances of Ben Simmons getting traded before the new year are slim at best. There’s just not room on the roster, unless COVID continues to keep the Sixers shorthanded.
That said, Johnson’s experience is legitimate. Before the Nets last season and Phoenix the year before, Johnson spent four and a half years with Miami, where he was an integral part of the rotation. He’s a career 36.0 percent 3-point shooter on 3.5 attempts per game, with the ball-handling chops and basketball awareness to run point in a pinch.
The Sixers won’t need Johnson to self-create a ton of looks, but that is a skill that remains all too rare on the current roster. Outside of Tyrese Maxey and Tobias Harris, both of whom have glaring limitations, Joel Embiid is the only player consistently asked to create his own offense. Johnson can help unstick the offense when the gears aren’t quite turning properly.
Johnson can play next to or behind the likes of Maxey and Shake Milton, making him a versatile fit for the Sixers’ presently shorthanded rotation. The Sixers are 16-15, good for sixth place in the Eastern Conference. It makes sense for them to use this hardship exception on a veteran who can credibly help them win games while he’s needed. Philadelphia has ground to make up if the goal is to be a legitimate contender come the postseason.
Per the team release, Johnson will wear No. 8 — the number infamously donned by fan favorite Jahlil Okafor back in the day.