Safe to say, the Philadelphia 76ers have been slow operators amid the first few waves of free agency. Much of that is attributable to the team being vortexed by headlines surrounding some of the biggest names in the league — but talking about free agency itself, the franchise simply hasn’t done much.
Aside from coming to terms with veteran guard Patrick Beverley to a one-year, minimum-salary deal, the Sixers have only been coiled up in a series of team-related departures. From Georges Niang signing with Cleveland to Shake Milton going to Minnesota, the 76ers have lost some key rotation cogs from last season.
One exit, however, stands out among the rest and could easily turn out to be a massive mistake by Philadelphia’s brass for the foreseeable future, including next season.
Shocking free agency departure could doom the Philadelphia 76ers next season
Jalen McDaniels, the Sixers’ trade deadline pickup last season from the Charlotte Hornets, was quickly snagged by the Toronto Raptors to the tune of a two-year, $9.3 million deal. Easily one of, if not the biggest steal in free agency, that Toronto was able to snatch him from Philly for only their bi-annual exception is a massive win for them.
However, this is easily a big slip-up by the 76ers. McDaniels turned in a career-year last season, notwithstanding his modest decline due to a shorter leash under Doc Rivers’ rotation. The lanky forward showed a big jump in offensive production while blooming as a do-it-all defender who can legitimately guard four positions with his lengthy frame.
McDaniels became an afterthought for Philly in the postseason where he stood outside the rotation, but he was expected to become a key player for the franchise for the foreseeable future. This is especially pivotal considering PJ Tucker’s age and Tobias Harris widely expected to be shopped by the Sixers as he enters the final year of his lucrative contract.
Instead, the 76ers will lose him to a Raptors team with a very disruptive on-court sheen, where McDaniels should easily thrive in. But more importantly, the franchise lost a young key player who could have been a big factor for them with just more reps. And considering Nick Nurse’s preference for long, switchable players, the regrets will only continue to pile up from here on out.
Hopefully, the Philadelphia 76ers can do just enough moving forward to make them forget about Jalen McDaniels’ exit. Otherwise, losing him would be a massive waste of an opportunity to bolster not only the present, but also the foreseeable future.
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