Philadelphia 76ers: Kyle O’Quinn looks like the odd man out

(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

With Norvel Pelle’s NBA eligibility almost up, could the Philadelphia 76ers waive Kyle O’Quinn to secure the rookie a roster spot?

In the NBA, there are always tough decisions to make when it comes to personnel, but through roughly the first half of the 2019-20 NBA season, the Philadelphia 76ers have been remarkably consistent.

Sure, players have seen their minutes fluctuate here and there, with Trey Burke assuming Raul Neto‘s role as a backup point guard last month, but outside of the ebb and flow of regular-season coaching, the Sixers haven’t seen a single personnel change this season.

*Spoiler alert* that’s about to change.

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With the trade deadline less than a month away and a few moves all but destined to be made, Sixers players both insanely popular and maybe not so much could end up in a different jersey by the end of All-Star weekend, if they even latch on at all.

The first shoe to drop? My money is on Kyle O’Quinn.

Why you may ask? Easy, the Sixers need a roster spot to sign Norvel Pelle for the remainder of the season.

As evidenced by the team’s last two contests against the Boston Celtics and the Dallas Mavericks, Brett Brown has become enchanted by his 26-year-old rookie’s boundless energy and bouncy-ful blocks and a change of pace center behind Joel Embiid-less starter Al Horford.

Normally this would be fine, it’s happened a few other times this season as well, but because of the parameters of Pelle’s contract things can’t stay copacetic for much longer.

You see, Pelle is signed to a two-way contract, and only has a handful of his 45 eligible NBA days of eligibility left (as per The Inquirer’s Keith Pompey. While the team could stash Pelle in the G-League for the rest of the year to maintain his contract, he’s become a bit too valuable as a Richaun Holmes-esque leaper to hide away in Delaware.

That may actually be an understatement.

As crazy as it sounds, Pelle has actually carved out a pretty nice niche on this Sixers squad as a lob target for Ben Simmons in the paint, and could develop sizable chemistry with the team’s max guard in Embiid’s absence. He may not be 2014 Nerlens Noel, and maybe more or less tapped out as a pro due to his age, but his skills are hard to replicate and even harder to pass off to some other team who could use a backup center.

So to make room for one center, the most logical decision would be to let another go, especially one who has only appeared in 19 games this season versus 21 DNPs.

But don’t cry for KOQ should my premonition come true; I’m sure the 29-year-old vet will be just fine.

After having to scrounge the bargain bins of late-season free agency for a backup center last season (Greg Monroe), Elton Brand kinda, sorta overcompensated at the five-spot over the summer with three new centers coming into training camp – for really if you count Florida State giant Christ Koumadje and his Exhibit 10 deal.

Clearly that thought process wasn’t too misguided, as Embiid did end up getting hurt, but who would have predicted six months ago just how effective Pelle would become at the game’s highest level.

While things didn’t go exactly as planned, it’s clear the Philadelphia 76ers’ backup plan at the center position is leaps and bounds better than their 2018-19 plan even if their first option coming off the bench is an exciting young prospect instead of a well-traveled vet.

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And as for Kyle O’Quinn? No doubt there’s some team – probably a contender – who could use some stability at the five-spot that only an a-year veteran can provide. Fortunately, his legs should be fresh too.