It may be Friday night, but the Philadelphia 76ers were still working hard as they announced that they’ve signed Paul Reed to a standard NBA contract and also signed Mason Jones to a two-way deal. Reed and Rayjon Tucker had previously been the Sixers’ two-way players.
Reed, a flexible 6-foot-8 player out of DePaul, averaged 22.3 points, 11.8 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.9 steals, and 1.8 blocks for the Delaware Blue Coats in the G League’s bubble in Orlando, Florida. Sixers President of Basketball Operations Daryl Morey called Reed “super underrated” after drafting him with the 58th pick in the draft. Reed has lived up to that statement so far.
Reed joked earlier this week that his teammates were “gassing me up” about being named G League MVP, but said he was trying to stay humble and grounded.
Sixers head coach Doc Rivers had to use Reed at center in the Sixers’ win Thursday night over the Los Angeles Lakers after Dwight Howard was ejected. He thought Reed did well under difficult circumstances in his first meaningful NBA minutes since January. “Paul was great, other than that three with 19 seconds on the clock in the fourth quarter,” Rivers said with a laugh.
“It was so tough for him, because we hadn’t used him at the five ever. He didn’t know any of the coverages defensively. That just put him in such a tough spot. The only offensive play he knew was the one set we run, ‘Delay,’ because that’s what they ran for him in the G League, and so we started running that and got two layups for him out of that. But he’s just one of those guys who has a nose for the ball, he finds the ball, he plays with amazing energy, and he was good for our team.”
Blue Coats head coach Connor Johnson was similarly impressed by Reed’s constant activity in the G League. “He plays with a high motor, there’s a lot going on, he’s aggressive trying to score, but I think he’s made steps thus far refining his game to be a complete offensive player that can fit in with other guys that are going to need the ball a lot,” Johnson told NBC Sports Philadelphia earlier this month. “I think that’s a huge positive for the Sixers.”
Even before Howard’s ejection, the Sixers didn’t have much depth at center following their trade for George Hill and Ignas Brazdeikis Thursday, which sent big man Tony Bradley to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Joel Embiid has been out with a left knee bone bruise. Morey acknowledged Thursday night that, if the Sixers did sign someone in the buyout market, it was most likely to be a frontcourt player.
“ … We have probably more opportunity at that big spot, so I would expect a buyout would probably be more big — if we do any at all, it’d be more big,” Morey said Thursday night. “That said, we feel good. Joel and Dwight can obviously play the five, more of a traditional five. As you mentioned, Doc if he chooses can put unique lineups on the floor with Ben and Tobias and Mike Scott (at center). We feel good about where we’re at but if a buyout comes along, more likely big than not.”
Friday night’s moves leave the Sixers with the maximum of 15 players signed to standard NBA contracts and two players on two-ways. They would therefore need to waive a player to accommodate another signing.
The team has approximately $4.8 million left of its taxpayer mid-level exception. A date to monitor around the NBA will be April 9 which is the latest a player can be waived and still be eligible for the playoffs.
Jones, a 6-foot-4 guard, was a college teammate of fellow Sixers rookie Isaiah Joe at Arkansas. He went undrafted but played 26 games this season for the Rockets under a two-way contract and later a 10-day, posting 5.8 points, 2.0 rebounds, and 1.5 assists per game.
Jones was a confident and very productive college scorer, posting 22.0 points per game as a sophomore.