Gerald Henderson, in almost all respects as an NBA player, is fine. He’s not great at any skill but not dreadful anywhere either, especially as he’s attained NBA three-point range over the past two seasons. He’s a solid defender, but not one you’d consider a shut-down guy. He’s a solid play-maker, but not one you’d ever rely upon in a primary role. His biggest weakness is his confidence in being much better than he actually is, leading to almost comical situational awareness of time and score.
Situational awareness, which lacks with Tinder in general, is the phrase of the day. And while that on-court deficiency is Henderson’s second most notable (the most notable? hitting that lady in the head with a basketball*), it’s a situation outside of Henderson’s control which makes me want to swipe left.
The Sixers have the option to bring back Henderson next year at $9 million. There are conflicting reports as to whether next year is a team option or a partially guaranteed contract. Widely assumed to be signed to a one-year deal with a second year team option, Bobby Marks writing at The Vertical near the trade deadline noted that Henderson has $1 million guaranteed to him next year, which is not technically possible with a team option. Regardless, whatever his contract is, the Sixers owe less than 1% of their cap limit next year to Henderson.
Given that $101 million salary cap, 11 team slots likely taken by players returning under contract aside from Henderson, $69 million in cap room after accounting for those 11, and up to six draft picks joining the organization on June 22nd, the situation doesn’t look good for retaining Henderson. The math to bring him back doesn’t work, especially if the Sixers aim to sign younger, better players in free agency.
Among the 11 returning contracted players are four wings that play the same positions as Henderson, including two surefire returning players in Robert Covington and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot. Luwawu’s play in the second half of the season especially should seal Gerald’s fate. TLC showed that he could soon become a better version of Henderson, with a mix of off-the-dribble skills to go with a solid-looking shot and tons of defensive potential.
The Sixers also seem to be looking for guards and wings in the draft, and also seem to want to play Ben Simmons on the perimeter on both ends of the court. Playing Ben Simmons like a guard on both ends of the court might be a bad idea, but it does inform us of the team’s thinking regarding Henderson, as well.
Added onto everything above is some unfortunate medical issues which crept up on multiple occasions during the season. Henderson had hip surgery back in 2011, and he missed 10 games in 2016-17 mostly due to hip soreness. Sixers broadcasters noted once during the year that Henderson was suffering from hip arthritis, which sounds horrifying especially for an NBA player. Arthritis doesn’t disappear - it’ll affect him the rest of his career if he has it.
So swiping left is a no-brainer. Gerald did his part in his hometown for a season, adding some defense and professionalism and solid play to a roster that could sorely use it, but it’s time for us to go our separate ways. He’ll find a match with another team this summer, especially given the scarcity of league average wings in the NBA.
What would you do with Gerald Henderson?
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