The signing of Chasson Randle puts the Sixers one step closer to where they expected to be at the point guard position when the season started. Randle, though, didn't anticipate his season would turn out this way.
"This definitely exceeds all my expectations," Randle said.
The Sixers began the season with three point guards. They signed veteran Jerryd Bayless to a multi-year deal in the summer to be the starter. Sergio Rodriguez returned to the NBA from Europe as a backup, and T.J. McConnell entered his second year still fighting to secure his roster spot. The plan was for Ben Simmons to also handle point guard duties.
Then Simmons fractured his foot. Bayless suffered a wrist injury in camp that eventually turned out to be season-ending. That left just Rodriguez and McConnell at the one-spot.
Meanwhile, Randle was with the Knicks during training camp. He was playing well enough to be considered for a backup role but was sidelined by an orbital bone fracture. When it came time for final cuts, the Knicks waived Randle (the New York Post dove into the decision) and he joined their D-League affiliate in Westchester.
When the Sixers waived Hollis Thompson early in January, they used the empty roster spot to pursue a point guard. Randle emerged during a workout with three other Development League prospects. Not only could Randle run the floor, he also had combo guard skills that would allow him to play shooting guard in practice and help out when Gerald Henderson was limited. Projecting out, Randle also could complement Simmons off the ball.
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The Sixers signed Randle to a 10-day contract, which, based on the frequency of them in past seasons, didn't mean he'd be around after it expired. The team liked what it saw. He scored 10 points in 16 minutes during his NBA debut, and the Sixers brought him back for a second 10-day contract.
By the end of the deal, the Sixers had to decide to either let him go or sign him. On Monday, they inked Randle to a three-year contract, beginning with the remainder of this season.
"I just came in focused on one day at a time and trying to make the best of this whole experience when I first got here," Randle said. "It started with the 10-day and I wasn't sure if I would get another opportunity. I wanted to make the best of it, have fun while I was doing it, and it's been amazing being here with this group of guys and this staff."
Now the Sixers have three point guards and Randle has a job in the NBA, accomplishing goals of all parties at the beginning of the season. Brett Brown utilized the depth on Sunday, at the end of Randle's second 10-day contract, when he turned to Randle against the Bulls. Randle clocked just five minutes, but there was a thought process behind playing him at all.
"I wasn't happy with our second team," Brown said. "So I decided to go with him in the second half in Chicago. To have an alternative possibility on your bench as a third point guard keeps the [competition] and might help us win."
Randle has appeared in four games. Most of his practice work hasn't yet been displayed on the court. He has been focusing on the pick-and-roll, his jump shot and changing pace. His teammates are getting a sneak peak into his potential as they watch him work out.
"He is as talented on offense as it gets," McConnell said. "He knows how to score the ball, he knows how to run a team, he's just a very smart basketball player. We're lucky to have him."
Brown rarely speaks of Randle without mentioning his academic background. Randle became Stanford's all-time leading scorer while completing his undergraduate degree before his senior year.
"The four-year college player for our program is extremely rare," Brown said. "You see the difference completely with the first-year college player and a four-year college player. ... You say there's a skill package, there's an intellect, there's a poise that maybe he just needs a chance and an opportunity."
Randle has earned both.