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Stay or Go: Can the Sixers bring Jalen McDaniels back on a team-friendly deal?

Jalen McDaniels fell out of the playoff rotation, but showed promise during the regular season. Should the Sixers bring him back?

NBA: Playoffs-Philadelphia 76ers at Brooklyn Nets Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia 76ers, led by Daryl Morey, have plenty of questions to answer this summer. They recently addressed a major one in their next head coach, hiring Nick Nurse. Heading into free agency, they’ll have several key rotation players they’ll look to retain in free agency.

As of right now, they have zero draft picks in the upcoming draft, so playing the free agent market well could make or break their chances for a redemption year.

Continuing this series, we’ll evaluate key members of last year’s Sixers team and ask the simple question: Should he stay or go?

Jalen McDaniels, unrestricted free agent

Despite having a major role change with a mid-year trade, Jalen McDaniels had the best year of his career in 2022-23. Between his time in Charlotte and Philly, his 23.9 minutes, 9.4 points, 4.3 rebounds, and one three-point make per game were all career-highs.

The Sixers were a much more talented team than the Hornets, which led to his playing time getting cut after the trade. McDaniels did step up when called upon, however, logging 17.3 points, 7.3 rebounds, and two steals while shooting 54.3 percent from the field as a starter with the Sixers.

As the playoffs progressed, the Sixers’ rotation got smaller and smaller — eventually squeezing McDaniels out entirely. While this might be discouraging to some, it was his first postseason appearance ever. It would be a huge ask for him to consistently produce considering the circumstances.

Unlike Paul Reed, McDaniels is an unrestricted free agent — which means the Sixers don’t have contract matching rights. He’s free to pursue deals with other teams, and can leave on his own accord. The Sixers do have his Bird rights, meaning they can pay whatever regardless of their salary cap situation.

The Sixers were deep at the power forward spot last season, but there’s a decent chance that things will look drastically different next season. Georges Niang is a free agent, and Tobias Harris is on an expiring contract which means he may be dealt. If either player (or both) is moved, retaining McDaniels will be a huge priority. His offense is a work in progress, but his potential next to Joel Embiid on both ends of the floor is very intriguing.

The demand for lengthy, athletic forwards is higher than ever which means McDaniels should have various suitors. Teams to show interest in McDaniels in the past include the Toronto Raptors, Indiana Pacers, Utah Jazz, and San Antonio Spurs. The Pacers, Jazz, Spurs are all projected to have salary space this summer.

The 2023 free agent class lacks defensive-minded forwards who will likely be in the Sixers’ price range. Kelly Oubre Jr., Kyle Kuzma, Rui Hachimura and Torrey Craig would be the best players suited to replace McDaniels if he left — but almost all of them will certainly be out of the Sixers’ price range. Realistically, you’d be looking at players such as Josh Richardson, Dario Saric or Jeff Green to replace his production.

The forward talent only decreases from those names. It’s hard to imagine the Sixers letting McDaniels walk if James Harden and/or Tobias Harris depart — which would free up enough space for them to work out a contract ideal for both sides. If I’m Morey, I’d do what I can to keep McDaniels around.


Should Jalen McDaniels stay or go?

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  • 86%
    (1166 votes)
  • 13%
    (181 votes)
1347 votes total Vote Now

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