T.J. McConnell has gone from fringe NBA player to solidified starter over the last few months, and it’s not just Sixers fans who have taken notice. According to a new report, the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers inquired about his availability, only to be turned down by the Sixers’ front office.
This report comes courtesy of Inquirer beat writer Keith Pompey:
The #ClevelandCavaliers approached #Sixers about trading for @TJMcConnell, according to multiple sources. They turned down the deal. #NBA pic.twitter.com/7eBmDjM5v6— Keith Pompey (@PompeyOnSixers) January 29, 2017
Elaborating on the story, Pompey suggests an old friend would have been sent back the other way:
The Cavs wanted to put together a deal that would have brought Jordan McRae back to Philly. The Sixers acquired McRae in the second round of the 2014 draft. The Sixers sent him Australia to play for Melbourne United during the 2014-15 season. McRae was waived by the Sixers on Oct. 26, 2015.
The Cavaliers are pretty obviously in the market for bench help. In the midst of a Cavs downturn, LeBron James let loose his anger with the team’s current setup, and made it clear he wasn’t happy about the lack of playmakers Cleveland has on the bench:
We need a f—king playmaker.
I just hope that we’re not satisfied as an organization. I just hope we’re not satisfied. It’s great to have bodies. Obviously, in the playoffs, you go down to what, eight max? And if somebody gets in foul trouble, you go to nine. You’re not playing back-to-backs. You have two days in between. You’re able to lock in.
We’re a top-heavy team. We have a top-heavy team. We top-heavy as [expletive]. It’s me, [Kyrie Irving], [Kevin Love]. It’s top-heavy.
I’m not singling out anybody. I’m not. Yeah, we won [the championship], but [expletive], you know what, let’s see if we can do something.
McConnell’s recent play has been eye-catching, but his contract is just as valuable for the Cavs. Cleveland is well over the luxury tax, let alone the soft cap, and McConnell’s minuscule cap hit would allow Cleveland to shed some money, at least if they were interested in sending a player with a bigger contract back to the Sixers.
If the offer was indeed Jordan McRae, there would be very little motivation for the Sixers to pull the trigger. McConnell might not be a top-level point guard, but the stability at the point of attack is much more valuable to the Sixers than another bench gunner.
In any case, the Sixers’ recent run of success should draw increased interest in the guys they have on board. The February 23rd trade deadline looms large for Philadelphia, with moves large and small likely to go down over the next month.