Sixers add much-needed backcourt depth with Saben Lee signing

Saben Lee, Sixers (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)
Saben Lee, Sixers (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images) /

Saben Lee will sign a two-way contract with the Philadelphia 76ers, according to ESPN’s Tim Bontemps. To create space on the roster, the Sixers will cut Michael Foster Jr., who is eligible to join the Delaware Blue Coats in the G-League if he clears waivers.

Foster never saw NBA minutes with Philadelphia, so it’s hard to blame the front office here. Lee spent two years with the Detroit Pistons, appearing in 85 total games (seven starts) while averaging 5.6 points, 2.4 rebounds, and 2.9 assists in 16.3 minutes per contest. The 23-year-old previously attended Vanderbilt.

The Sixers bolster the backcourt with Saben Lee signing

Lee’s purpose here is pretty clear: offer some last-resort insurance at the guard spot. With James Harden and Tyrese Maxey both expected to miss a few more weeks, Philly’s guard rotation is running on fumes. De’Anthony Melton is a stud and Shake Milton looks quite comfortable as impromptu starter, but it gets dire fast once you move past those two.

While Lee’s future with Philadelphia is murky at best, he does have legitimate NBA experience. He’s a ball-handler and spark-plug scorer who the Sixers know can actually carry his weight if needed. Furkan Korkmaz’s return helps the guard rotation some, but the next man in line is… Jaden Springer? We haven’t really seen Jaden Springer in the NBA yet, and it’s safe to assume he’s not entirely ready for important minutes.

Foster looked promising in Summer League and the preseason. The Sixers, however, have plenty of center depth behind Joel Embiid. Paul Reed continues to look great whenever afforded the opportunity, P.J. Tucker has spent several minutes at center this season, and Montrezl Harrell is someone who clearly has the full trust of Doc Rivers — for better or for worse. If Charles Bassey couldn’t crack the coaching staff’s radar, Foster probably couldn’t either.

It wouldn’t be terribly surprising to see Saben Lee actually get some run in the coming weeks. Again, he does have real NBA experience and the Sixers are desperately short on ball-handlers right now. That said, odds are the majority of guard minutes will be split between Melton, Milton, and Korkmaz for the time being.

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