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Grotz: Sixers boss Daryl Morey says patience paid off with Jared McCain

After the first round of the NBA Draft Wednesday, Sixers basketball operations chief Daryl Morey politely asked reporters to save their questions about free agency for the weekend.

The night belonged to Duke’s Jared McCain, the short, deadly shooter Morey took off the board with the 16th overall pick Wednesday. Nonetheless, Morey wanted everyone to know he passed on some trades, including one for an intriguing talent he wasn’t prepared to finalize yet who still is in play.

“There was a player offered to us that was pretty interesting,” Morey said. “We’d move back a bunch of slots. There was a move back pretty far back but pick up a future, quite a few sort of, second round picks and things like that. But we had McCain as a top 10 player in this draft.”

Pressed about passing on a player ready to compete now as opposed to a rookie who stands a shade under 6-2, Morey intimated the Sixers would have bailed out of 16 to do a trade had McCain not been available.

The way Morey phrased it he “liked some of the concepts where we moved back a little bit to pick up a guy who might be a little bit closer to be ready to play.

“But really the value on McCain was just too high for us,” Morey said. “And it was for a player we might be able to acquire later potentially.”

So, who was that “pretty interesting player?” It had to be a wing. An interesting veteran out there who definitely would help the Sixers is Kentavius Caldwell-Pope (6-5, 200) of Utah.

The 33-year-old Caldwell-Pope has a career scoring average of 11.4 points for a team with parts that don’t fit. He is expected to decline his $15.4 million player option by Saturday.

With up to $65 million of salary cap room, the Sixers have plenty of payroll to make that and a max deal for coveted wing Paul George work.

The Sixers also would be able to squeeze Tyrese Maxey in with a maximum extension and still have cash to complete the roster.

There is no denying the Sixers need a wing or two, particularly if they don’t bring back Tobias Harris.

There is another “pretty interesting” veteran out there as well in 26-year-old wing Miles Bridges (6-7), who averaged 21 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.8 assists for the Charlotte Hornets.Bridges can become a free agent. He’s been shopped around the league with one of the destinations Brooklyn, according to reports. There are reports the Sixers could be interested in Bridges.

There is an issue with Bridges. Per reports, he pleaded no contest to a domestic violence charge on Nov. 3, 2022. Bridges sat out the 2022-23 season and was arrested in October of 2023 for violating his parole.

How that history would fly with a Sixers organization full of women in management roles is pretty interesting. Bridges didn’t start the season until mid-November but made it through clean. The Sixers should be able to add contractual protection if he hasn’t put his ugly past in the rearview mirror.

The Sixers can afford Bridges, who likely would command a contract averaging around $30 million annually. Maxey and possibly a soon-to-be marquee free agent like guard/wing Paul George would still be affordable.

McCain would help fill out a roster that now is composed of Joel Embiid, Maxey (restricted), Paul Reed and Ricky Council IV. McCain will be part of the group as well.

McCain unquestionably has shooting skills. Though he averaged just 14.3 points in his only season with Duke, he was money from both three-point range (41.4 shooting percentage) and the free throw line (88.9 percent).

But McCain also is vertically challenged, at least by NBA standards. You wouldn’t want to have him and Maxey (6-2) playing monster minutes together.

“I think that’s a valid concern,” Morey said. “Obviously your backcourt in a perfect world you would want taller. But I think you have to compensate for that with strength. He’s got a strong frame. He’s got a strong frame. Very strong. Good rebounder. We think he’ll be a solid defender in the league over time.”

Morey watched McCain improve defensively as the year wore on at Duke. But the fact remains, there are reasons why McCain was the fifth point guard to come off the board Wednesday.

Three point guards were drafted shortly before McCain, a list composed of Nikola Topic (6-6, Serbia), who was 12th to Oklahoma City, Devin Carter (6-2) to the Kings and Bub Carington (6-4) to the Trail Blazers. Topic and Carrington are decidedly taller than McCain, and Carter has long arms that equate to a 6-9 wingspan.

“It’s asking a lot for a young player to play on our team,” Morey said. “We’re looking to be the top team in the East. But he has that possibility. And we have more roster opportunity than you usually have in that situation.”

For the Sixers, a “pretty interesting” start to the offseason rebuild is on the verge of getting a lot more interesting this weekend.

Contact Bob Grotz at rgrotz@delcotimes.com


Source: Berkshire mont

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