Markelle Fultz stopped playing and practicing for the 76ers only after they played T.J. McConnell over him. Since Fultz stepped away, McConnell has served as backup point guard, and Philadelphia has reportedly removed him from the trade block.
That made sense. The 76ers are trying to win now, and McConnell is capable behind Ben Simmons. Fultz is a major work in progress, and Philadelphia could trade him. McConnell appeared to have relatively low trade value.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN on The Russillo Show:
I’m very confident T.J. could have gotten Philadelphia a first-round pick the last few weeks.
Maybe a heavily protected first-rounder that’s highly likely to become a second-rounder or two. Maybe. But a pick that could accurately described as a first-rounder? That’s tough to believe.
McConnell is a decent backup point guard on a minimum salary. But he’s 26-years-old and 6-foot-2. McConnell deserves immense credit for getting as far as he has, but it’s tough to see much untapped upside.
Who so badly needs a backup point guard this season – McConnell will be an unrestricted free agent afterward and could be signed directly – they’d give up a first-rounder for McConnell?
The Suns – the NBA’s most point-guard-starved team – reportedly offered a second-rounder for McConnell before the season, and Philadelphia obviously declined. And that was coming off McConnell’s best season. He hasn’t played quite as well this year.
If the 76ers can actually still get a bona fide first-rounder for McConnell – I’m not sure what would have changed in the last few weeks – they probably should. It won’t be pretty when Simmons sits, but Philadelphia can probably cobble together 48 minutes at point guard between Simmons, Jimmy Butler, Landry Shamet and Demetrius Jackson before acquiring a more stable option.
An extra first-rounder would probably go a long way toward acquiring a point guard better than McConnell, too.