Philadelphia 76ers: Shake Milton’s two-way contract frees up a roster spot

(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

With Shake Milton locked up in a two-way contract, the Philadelphia 76ers now have an extra roster space available going into training camp.

In a move that should have surprised no one, the Philadelphia 76ers have officially signed their second-round pick, Shake Milton, to a contract going into training camp.

Even after missing all of Summer League to an unfortunate back injury, it came as no surprise that the team has still opted to retain the 6-foot 6 combo guard from SMU they traded up in the second round to acquire, but one thing that is a bit surprising has to be the nature of the contract.

Unlike NBA first-round picks, whose contracts are already pretty much set in stone when they sign based on where they are selected, second round picks have a lot more freedom to negotiate deals. Philly fans may remember K.J. McDaniels opting against a four-year contract in favor of a one-year, prove-it deal that ultimately resulted in the promising Clemson guard/forward being shipped off to the Houston Rockets at the trade deadline for a future second-round pick and Isaiah Canaan.

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After starting 15 games for the 76ers in 2014-2015, McDaniels hasn’t appeared in an NBA game since April 12th, 2017.

Though unconventional contracts for second round picks can be a blessing or a curse depending on how a player performs, another option now is the two-way contract.

Introduced last season, NBA teams are now allowed to sign two players to a two-way contract at any given time, allowing a developmental player to remain under contract with the team but get more time in the G League. As things presently stand, a two-way contract player can spend up to 45 days in the NBA, or roughly half of the season, and can be used just like any other player. However, when their 45 days are up, the team either has to re-sign the player for the remainder of the season or release them into free agency.

Last year, the Philadelphia 76ers had four players on two-way contracts over the course of the season, James Michael McAdoo, formerly of the Golden State Warriors who appeared in three games, ex-Boston Celtic James Young, who appeared in six games, Kansas State all-time great Jacob Pullen, who appeared in six games, and Demetrius Jackson, who you may know as the team’s starting point guard over the summer. While only one of these four players is still with the team (Jackson), Milton’s name can now be added to said list of players, as he has officially agreed to a two-way contract with Philly for the 2017-2018 season.

Though this move is mildly surprising, as many had already penciled in the combo guard for a spot in the 15-man roster, the sheer fact that he was willing to take a two-way deal as opposed to going all in for a chance to make the roster could be a major boon for all parties involved. With much less pressure to perform and rush back from his mid-summer injury, Milton can now continue to practice and even sometimes travel with the team without feeling rushed to return to the court. Furthermore, he can use his time with the recently rechristened Delaware Blue Coats to refine his game in the hopes of joining the rotation in 2018-2019, just like Furkan Korkmaz appears to have done.

To put it simply, this move has virtually no downside for anyone involved. However, it does make things interesting for Philly’s roster going into the fall.

For some time now, it’s appeared as though Jerryd Bayless‘ time in South Philly is all but up, as the 10th-year vet has recently been included in a number of potential trade scenarios including one involving Kyle Korver, but with Milton now off the 15 man roster, the team is all but guaranteed to add another veteran scorer into the fold using their mid-level option in the forthcoming days.

With promising young prospects like Pat Connaughton and Patrick McCaw still unsigned, and veteran role-players like Nick Young and Jamal Crawford still searching for their next NBA opportunity, Milton’s two-way contract could free Philly up to finally add that second team sharpshooter the roster has definitely been missing, while also keeping a potential prospect with the team who could eventually become a solid rotational player by simply waiving Bayless outright.

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While only time will tell who the team decides to bring in to fill out their roster going into training camp, this is a classic case of the team having its cake and eating it too, and Brett Brown deserves credit for engineering such a smart, forward-thinking deal.