Philadelphia 76ers: Charles Bassey could learn from K.J. McDaniels

(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

After some initial intrigue, the Philadelphia 76ers appeared to have found a player to fill their 15th and final roster spot: Charles Bassey.

I know, I know, talk about a major league bummer, as securing Bassey’s services on a standard NBA contract deals a significant blow to the team’s ability to utilize their $8.19 million trade exception, but alas, based on the lack of chatter surrounding the organization, such is life.

What is unusual about signing Bassey, however, is the contract his agent had negotiated. According to Shams Charania, Bassey intends to sign a one-year, non-guaranteed tender.

On paper, could this be a smart business move for the former Western Kentucky Hilltopper? Sure, he gets to test free agency in 2022, where he could conceivably sign a contract worth whatever the market allows. But it could also turn very tragic very quickly, as his role with the Sixers this season isn’t exactly expected to be expansive.

While I’m all for betting on yourself, maybe Charles Bassey should look back on the career of K.J. McDaniels before signing such a risky contract with the Philadelphia 76ers.

A one-year contract hurt ex-Philadelphia 76ers wing K.J. McDaniels’ career.

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The 2013-14 NCAA season was very, very good to K.J. McDaniels.

A high-flying winger garnering legitimate NBA chatter, McDaniels led the Clemson Tigers in points, steals, blocks, and even rebounds as a 6-foot-6, 205 pound small forward and near-singlehandedly willed his team to 10 more wins than the season prior.

If ever there was a player ready to make the jump from the college ranks to the NBA, it was McDaniels, and, despite having an additional year of college eligibility on the books, he did just that, declaring for the 2014’s NBA Draft with a mid-to-late first-round grade by many a respected talent evaluator.

Had McDaniels ultimately been selected in the first round, by a team like the Miami Heat, the Los Angeles Clippers, the San Antonio Spurs, or even the then-good Houston Rockets, he surely would have accepted a by-the-books scaled NBA contract the likes of which every rookie agrees to when they join the NBA ranks but because he wasn’t picked until 32 overall, two picks into the second round, things opened up in a dangerous way.

You see, in the NBA, there is no hard-and-fast framework for how teams sign second-round picks. Some teams will offer a piece of their mid-level exception to help facilitate a player’s signing – like Daryl Morey did with Isaiah Joe in 2020 – or will seek to stash away a prospect in Europe in order to save an immediate roster spot – like Daryl Morey did with Filip Petrušev – but regardless, when a team and prospect ultimately agree to a deal, it’s usually for multiple years, with most, if not all of them guaranteed.

McDaniels didn’t want to go that route.

No, spurned of an opportunity to play for an NBA contender – surely because of his very poor 3 point shot – McDaniels and his agent negotiated a one-year, non-guaranteed contract that would allow him to become a free agent in 2015, in the hopes of performing well as a rookie and then cashing in much faster than his Class of 2014 peers.

Remember, 2014 was before the two-way contract came into existence, so this really was the only way for McDaniels to guarantee himself an opportunity to pick his own team in Year 2.

Bursting onto the scene as the Sixers’ unlikely sixth man, McDaniels averaged 9.2 points and 3.8 rebounds a game for Brett Brown‘s team and developed good chemistry playing off of players like Michael-Carter Williams, Robert Covington, and Nerlens Noel. McDaniels recorded 24 games with at least 10 points, surpassed 20 minutes in 11 more, and even recorded a double-double in his career-best game against the Dallas Mavericks in the final game of November 2014.

Truly McDaniels looked like one of those uncovered gems The Process was designed to uncover, and he would earn the healthy payday he and his agent engineered heading into his rookie season, either with the 76ers or elsewhere.

Unfortunately, there was one variable in his plan that McDaniels didn’t account for: Sam Hinkie. 

You see, with the Sixers still years away from being competitive, Hinkie placed McDaniels on the proverbial trade block and shipped him off to – get this – Daryl Morey and the Houston Rockets for Isaiah Canaan and a second-round pick; the pick eventually used to draft Richaun Holmes.

From there, McDaniels appeared in 10 of a possible 29 games for the Rockets and was a DNP for the entirety of the team’s playoff run. Though he did eventually sign a three-year, $10 million extension with the team – which, admittedly, was noticeably higher than the three-year, $2.7 million deal Joe Harris signed with the Cleveland Cavaliers after being drafted one pick later – McDaniels averaged 2.4 points in 6.3 minutes of action for the Rockets over his tenure, and was ultimately traded to the Brooklyn Nets for cash to get him off the books.

McDaniels did sign a one-year, $1.5 million deal with the Toronto Raptors in 2017, but he was waived at the end of camp and has since bounced around the basketball world looking for his next opportunity to make it back to the NBA.

Is that really a path Charles Bassey wants to potentially subject himself to? The life of a journeyman who never finds his footing and ultimately squanders a wonderful shot to instead optimize optionality?

Next. No Rondo, no problem; just use the trade exception. dark

Who knows, maybe Charles Bassey’s gamble will ultimately prove correct. Maybe he will play a ton in games where Joel Embiid is out for one reason or another and parlay his on-court play into a lucrative deal? Maybe he’ll actually pick a good team to sign an extension with, one who values his ability to lock down the paint and protect the net, and he’ll have a career like Richaun Holmes before we know it. But honestly, it’s just as likely that Daryl Morey moves his contract at the deadline a la his protegee with K.J. McDaniels a few years back to secure a better fitting piece for his win-now process.