Philadelphia 76ers: Jerryd Bayless can bring value off the court in 2018

(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /

After recording 30 straight DNPs to close out the 2017-2018 season, Jerryd Bayless could still add value to the Philadelphia 76ers moving forward.

While the Philadelphia 76ers current front office structure may be garnering all of the headlines, the one question that’s receiving far less publicity but should be involves Jerryd Bayless.

Mainly, why is he still on the roster?

At this point, it’s basically common knowledge that the Sixers and Bayless’ marriage has been far from smooth, as a team essentially benched him for the back half of the 2018 season in favor of far less experienced players like T.J. McConnell and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot.

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Though Bayless still has one year left on the three-year, $27 million dollar contract he initially signed back in 2016, it may just be better for the two parties to agree to a buyout and amicably move on.

But why hasn’t that happened yet?

It’s not like Bayless is owed a Joakim Noah-size contract that all but makes him an albatross around the team’s neck. For the low, low price of $9 million Philly could essentially wash their hands of the Arizona combo-guard and give his roster spot to a more immediate contributor like Jamal Crawford or Patrick McCaw using the team’s mid-level option.

Though paying out $9 million to have a player simply go away would be a pretty tough pill to swallow for the vast majority of the world, for a team like the Sixers, with a $100-plus million roster budget, it’s a fairly insignificant sum when compared to the potential difference in on-court quality between Bayless and whoever would fill his roster spot.

For a team like the 76ers, with a very real chance of representing the Eastern Conference in the 2018 NBA Finals, the opportunity cost has to shift towards whatever will win the most games.

Or does it? Maybe the reason Philly has been reluctant to move on from Bayless isn’t on the court at all, but off it?

Initially signed to serve as a combo guard foil to Ben Simmons in the pre-J.J. Redick-era, the duo spent much of their time together during their respective injury shortened 2016 seasons, with Bayless serving as a mentor to Ben both on and off the court.

Maybe the team believes that Bayless’ experience and professionalism as a sort of on-the-court coach is more valuable than investing $10 million on a player like Crawford with a rather limited skill-set. Only 13 players can be active for any given game after all.

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The team used a similar tactic with Elton Brand back in 2016, and Joel Embiid lit up the league as a rookie the following fall. Maybe Bayless could fill a similar role in Markelle Fultz and Landry Shamet‘s development?

With the 2018-2019 NBA season looking like the final chance for Philly to really focus on player development before ‘star hunting’ recommences next summer, presumably with the team adding that final piece to take them over the top towards title contention, it may be wise to keep Bayless around after all, at least through the trade deadline, to help the team grow.

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Though he may not contribute much of anything on the court, keeping Jerryd Bayless around for 2018-2019 NBA season could be valuable for the continued development of the team’s young players, and keep a spot handy for a potential buyout candidate like Marco Belinelli in March, allowing the Philadelphia 76ers to have their cake and eat it too.