The NBA's deadline to guarantee contracts for the rest of the 2014-15 season is 5:00 p.m. Wednesday evening, as players need to clear waivers by the 10th to not count as a guarantee against the cap. For most teams the deadline isn't a big deal, but most teams aren't the Philadelphia 76ers. The Sixers have an abundance of non-guaranteed contracts, a theme that came about starting with the beginning of the re-build last season.
However, Sam Hinkie stood mostly pat one year ago today, waiving just the beloved Daniel Orton. But with Philadelphia's fondness for ten-day contracts and keeping the back end of their roster like a turnstile for new talent, there is always the chance they could make some changes.
Philadelphia has six players on non-guaranteed contracts: Henry Sims, Hollis Thompson, K.J. McDaniels, Robert Covington, JaKarr Sampson, and Malcolm Thomas. McDaniels and Covington obviously are going nowhere. Provided they can work out McDaniels's contract situation, both he and Covington should be a part of the team's future plans. Hollis Thompson has seen his numbers decline as his role with the Sixers has increased this season, but giving up on him at this stage seems unlikely. He's still a valued contributor on the offense, and should return to the lineup once fully recovered from his upper respiratory infection. Henry Sims has no business being waived, as he could probably be a nice trade piece come February.
That leaves Sampson and Thomas as the two most likely players who could be waived come this evening.
Like Brandon Davies before him, Sampson has continued to defy the odds by keeping a roster spot this late in the season. He's even managed to play his way into the starting lineup, which makes you wonder if maybe he's Brett Brown's lovechild. He's played better as of late, as his 10 point performance against the Los Angeles Clippers last Saturday arguably his best all season. Sampson's game is rather simple: he's most effective off the dribble, and a pretty freakish athlete.
Other than that, he's a godawful shooter, and plays defense like someone injected a Pixy Stix directly into his veins. He can be an electrifying player, but Sampson should be working on his game at the D-League level, not at the NBA. The Sixers can designate him as their fourth and final "affiliated player", meaning the Delaware 87ers would get the first shot at signing him. Going to the Sevens to work on becoming a more well rounded player is probably what's best for Sampson, and could make the Sixers decision tomorrow much easier. But if Sampson has made it this far, it won't be a total shock to see him on the Sixers with some guaranteed NBA dough after the deadline passes.
Thomas has been as advertised, a half-decent defender and a really solid rebounder. In 10 games with the Sixers this season, the former San Diego State alum is averaging 3.5 points and 4.0 rebounds in just 13 minutes per game. Thomas isn't a bad player, but undersized power forwards with his skill set are rather easy to come by. It's not like his $635,827 is going to burn a giant hole in Josh Harris's pocket, but Philadelphia has chosen to be very...selective in the way they have spent their money over the past two seasons.
The issue isn't waiving Sampson or Thomas, the Sixers can do that at anytime. Philadelphia's front office must weigh whether it's really worth guaranteeing the deals of two players who could very easily be kicked to the curb. Will they be this year's Orton, or will they be this year's Elliot Williams, Brandon Davies, or Delaware Road Warrior Lorenzo Brown?
Most players will be unaffected by today's deadline, but JaKarr Sampson and Malcolm Thomas might be looking for a new job come 5:00 p.m.