Philadelphia 76ers: Why Charles Bassey’s Summer League is lost

(Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images)
(Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images) /

In case you haven’t heard, the Philadelphia 76ers were on the wrong end of a Summer League blowout following the premature departure of their fearless leader, Tyrese Maxey.

Mind you, the game wasn’t particularly bad – granted, it wasn’t particularly good either – but when you lose a player averaging 26 points per game and replace him with Frank Mason III, who isn’t a horrible player but is a 27-year-old G-Leaguer for a reason, you’re going to have trouble pulling out a W against a Boston Celtics summer team loaded with a slew of drafted players.

Should Philly fans get too discouraged that a Summer League banner likely won’t be flying in the rafters of the Wells Fargo Center any time soon – if such a thing happens? Probably not, but hey, this is Philly; it is what it is. Even in a set of exhibition games set to test the mettle of young players, having a carrot to chase is better than the thrill of competition.

But, in a league designed to get young players some run before the real bullets start to fly in the fall, there’s one Sixers’ draftee who has yet to take the court despite being fully healthy. With only a few more attempts to take the court before the NBA packs up their show and leaves Vegas, will fans of the Philadelphia 76ers actually get a chance for second-round draftee Charles Bassey to take the court?

*sigh* probably not.

Until Charles Bassey signs his deal, he’s surely out for the Philadelphia 76ers.

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As things presently stand, the Philadelphia 76ers have 17 players under contract; 15 on regular NBA deals, and two on two-way contracts. If the NBA season started today, they’d have a full roster and surely be ready to make another push for the top seed in an increasingly contentious Eastern Conference.

The only problem? The Sixers’ roster isn’t complete.

Excluding the $8.2 million trade exception Daryl Morey has to use or lose before the 9th of September, the Sixers still haven’t signed Charles Bassey – the 6-foot-11, 235-pound center the team paid $2 million to draft 53rd overall – to his NBA contract and thus have to make some move to free up a roster spot or renounce the Western Kentucky Hilltopper’s rights altogether.

Considering the aforementioned $2 million purchase of his draft rights, it’s probably going to be the former.

While this impending contractual impasse is effectively a technicality, as Bassey will be under team control this fall and even took his rookie press photos in a #23 Sixers jersey, said still-unsigned deal has reportedly left his agent unwilling to let the center take part in the Vegas Summer League, even if a string of strong performances could be incredibly helpful when it comes to earning a role this fall.

Is that the correct decision? …eh. In theory, if Bassey suffered a career-ending injury, the Sixers could try to wiggle their way out of a deal likely worth right around $4.2 million over three years, but such an injury/contractual disagreement is fairly unlikely to actually happen. If anything, the real problem that has cropped up for Bassey is the emergence of Filip Petrušev, the player Philly drafted 50th overall on that very same day.

Even if the plan has always been to stash away Petrušev for one more season in the Basketball League of Serbia, his impressive showings at both ends of the court – averaging five points, 3.7 rebounds, and 2.7(!) blocks per game in 19.8 minutes of action a night – has surely helped to cement himself as a prospect to watch for the Sixers moving forward, whether in 2021, 2022, or beyond.

Had Bassey afforded himself similar opportunities to play 20-ish minutes a night alongside his draft classmates and peers, maybe he too would be getting pre-preseason hype, especially if he formed a dynamic two-man game alongside Maxey in the pick-and-roll.

Remember, many projected Bassey as a Conference USA answer to Dwight Howard because of his stout frame, exceptional rebounding, and ability to score on 65.2 percent of his shots from 2 point range. Had he been given extended minutes alongside Maxey, maybe the duo could have formed the basis for a connection that could extend into the regular preseason? Similarly, it would have been nice to both see how both Petrušev and Paul Reed would have fared on the court with a throw-back, paint protecting big who averaged 17.6 points and 3.1 blocks a game for Western Kentucky.

Heck, if Bassey really has been working on expanding his game out to the 3 point line, what better way to introduce that facet of his game into an actual game than when the scores don’t really matter and the fans are just excited to see basketball?

*shrugs* I guess basketball is a business after all.

Next. Tyrese Maxey’s absence speaks volumes. dark

Could this all change in an instant? Could the Philadelphia 76ers pull off a massive three-for-one trade for a superstar and immediately have a roster spot available for the player selected with their costly second-round pick? Or could they instead just waive Anthony Tolliver – his $2.69 million non-guaranteed contract be darned – and slot said player without so much as breaking a sweat? Yes, both are technically possible to varying degrees of likeliness. But honestly, I kind of doubt either situation happens in the next week. No, until the elephant in the room is addressed and that $8.2 million exception is off the books, the Sixers’ roster will be a work in progress, even if it costs Charles Bassey a chance to test his mettle at the Summer League.