Philadelphia 76ers: Passing on Danuel House feels like a mistake

(Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)
(Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images) /

*sigh* the Philadelphia 76ers are bad, again.

That’s right, after riding high off a nice win over the Boston Celtics, a victory that finally got the team over .500 for the first time since December 6th, which honestly feels like a lifetime ago, all things considered, the Sixers dropped a stunner at the end of possession to an Atlanta Hawks game without Trae Young, Clint Capella, and Lou Williams.

Now granted, this wasn’t your typical trap game stunner. After falling significantly behind in the first quarter, the Sixers fought all the way back to 96-even within the game’s final frame, but with the game on the line, the NBA’s leading clutch scorer rimmed out the game-tying midrange J, and his squad left the fans assembled at the Wells Fargo Center disappointed on the night before the night before Christmas.

Tobias Harris‘ increasingly poor play came into question, as did Doc Rivers‘ coaching choices, and more than a few fans wrote feverishly to Santa Barkley for a shiny new trade under their Christmas tree.

Could that still happen? Yes, Daryl Morey‘s photogenic Sam Hinkie once waived Tony Wroten Christmas Eve, and the NBA sure does love people to be the center of attention on the merriest day of the year, but between you and me, that feels unlikely. If a trade happens this season, it’ll likely come together within 24 hours of February 10th and may, unfortunately, drag out until the new association year.

But that’s not the non-deal I want to talk about. No, I’m more questioning why the Philadelphia 76ers opted against signing Daryl Morey’s former player, Danuel House, to a 10-day contract when they had the chance.

Danuel House could have helped the Philadelphia 76ers replace Georges Niang.

The Philadelphia 76ers’ bench is both good and deep and bad and shallow.

Confusing? Maybe so, but allow me to elaborate. Despite being a team conceivably looking to win now, the Sixers have six players on their roster on either rookie-scale contracts or two-way deals who aren’t regular parts of Doc Rivers’ rotation. Theoretically, that’s good, as it’s always nice to have a pipeline of young, ascending talent, but when you factor in Ben Simmons’ absence, that leaves the Sixers with just 10 players who earn regular minutes in full-strength games.

Of those 10 players, you have the starters, who are varying degrees of good, a reserve center who leads the NBA in rebound percentage, a backup combo guard who averages double-digit points, a defensive wunderkind who might just be the weirdest player in the NBA, and two glue guy shooters with complementary skillsets.

Could the Sixers use a few key upgrades? Sure, they don’t have a single big wing to help match up at small forward, and their backup point guard situation leaves something to be desired, but theoretically, that team should be able to blow out a foe down a majority of their best players.

The problem? They can’t.

Andre Drummond is a goofy player who looks good in some situations and unplayable in others, Shake Milton is not a good fit as Tyrese Maxey’s backup, Matisse Thybulle has played his way onto the bench in more games than one due to bad offensive showings, and the duo of Furkan Korkmaz and Georges Niang had ridden varying streaks of hot and cold shooting all season long.

Factor in the absences of all five starters at one point or another, and you’re left with a team that can hide behind excuses all they want but is fundamentally flawed in more than a few different ways.

With all of that in mind, who Daryl Morey chose to sign to a league-mandated10-day contract plays basically no role in the team’s future. Sure, maybe the team gets lucky, and an off-the-street player/G-Leaguer becomes the next Marco Belinelli, but realistically, fans would settle for the next Corey Brewer, who plays a few games, generates some goodwill in the City of Brotherly Love, and moves on to his next NBA home.

For my money, that player should have been Danuel House.

A noted Morey guy who played for the exec’s former club, the Houston Rockets, from 2018-21, House was released earlier this season to pursue a roster spot on a contender and just signed a 10-day deal with the New York Knicks one day removed from Tyler Johnson’s signing with the Sixers.

While House doesn’t bring the same ball handling abilities to the table as Johnson, which is likely why he was signed, the UDFA out of Texas A&M was an effective 3-and-D specialist for Mike D’Antoni’s Rockets and could have filled a number of much-needed roles on a Sixers team lacking in some key areas.

For one, House is a willing catch-and-shooter. Sure, his averages aren’t elite, or should I say at least hasn’t been elite since 2018-19, but he at least takes 63.5 percent of his shots from beyond the arc each game and would rank fifth on the team in attempts per game at 4.7. Considering the Sixers as a whole only make 3s at a 34.8 percent clip, adding a player like House, with a Houston career 3 point shooting average of 36.9 percent would be a marked improvement over some of the players who take a ton of shots for the Sixers; I’m looking at you, everyone not named Seth Curry, Georges Niang, Danny Green, and Tyrese Maxey.

Factor in House’s average defensive efforts, where he was more or less a neutral defender when he was playing quadruple minutes for Houston when Morey was still calling the shots, and you’re left with the sort of player who could at the very least help to keep the Sixers afloat while Niang is out and maybe even generate enough goodwill to remain in the cards down the line should a roster spot open up, or the NBA gives teams a few more players permanently.

Next. Gauging the Philadelphia 76ers’ trade interest in Dejounte Murray. dark

Again, expecting anything but a short-term respite from a 10-day contract feels like a fool’s errand, especially for a team like the Philadelphia 76ers who only have eight veteran players on their roster. Adding another youngster likely won’t fix Philly’s issues more than the addition of Myles Powell on a two-way contract, and the veterans available are largely out of the league for a reason. Danuel House presented a unique opportunity only because he was recently released from a three-year, $11.15 million deal and because of his pre-existing relationship with Daryl Morey. Personally, I would have liked to see how he looked on the court for the Sixers, especially at small forward next to Tobias Harris and/or Georges Niang, if their timetables lined up. *sigh* oh well, on to the next one.