The Philadelphia 76ers' competed admirably in last night's second Summer League outing, taking the San Antonio Spurs down to the wire despite both of their 2016 draft picks (Ben Simmons and Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot) and their only true second-year players (T.J. McConnell and Richaun Holmes) getting the day off. Nominal squad veteran Christian Wood had the best performance, putting up 19 and 7 on 5-8 shooting (after scoring 20 on 7-9 shooting against Boston), and even hitting another two threes to show his extended game — decently impressive, especially in under 20 minutes of game action.
But here's the thing: Does Christian Wood, or anyone else who played last night, even have a chance to make the Sixers' opening night roster? Never mind that most of the dudes on the Summer League squad are pro-hoops flotsam that likely won't ever play in winter or spring anyway. This is more about the roster that the Sixers already have in place, which is starting to look pretty full — even moreso after yesterday's signing of shooting guard Gerald Henderson to a two-year, $18 million contract. (I never much liked Henderson — two-guards who dominate the ball and can't really shoot, eh — but he's an established vet and a local product, he's strong on defense, his range is improving, the contract is short, and he's not Dion Waiters, so sure, why not?)
Let's look at the Sixers' potential depth chart with this signing in place.
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PG: Jerryd Bayless / Sergio Rodriguez / T.J. McConnell
SG: Gerald Henderson / Hollis Thompson / Nik Stauskas
SF: Robert Covington / Dario Saric / Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot
PF: Ben Simmons / Carl Landry / Jerami Grant
C: Joel Embiid / Nerlens Noel / Jahlil Okafor
Of course, that positional breakdown is far from scientific; undoubtedly Nerlens and Jahlil will play a good deal of time at power forward, our wings will swap around, and I'd bet all three of our point guards spend some time as a starter as Coach Brett Brown figures out his team's best roster balance. (Not to mention that either Nerlens or Jahlil may still very well be traded at some point this off-season.) And that 15-man roster doesn't even include Richaun Holmes, who could end up edging his way into a frontcourt spot with more quality summer work.
But point is: The Sixers don't have a lot of wiggle room left on their bench. Maybe they try to send TLC or even Nik Stauskas to the D-League if they need to clear another spot, or maybe they try to work a buyout with Carl Landry to join a contender. Maybe Dario fails to make good on his word and stays overseas another year. But for the first time since at least the Doug Collins era, the Sixers are faced with the prospect of actually having more NBA players at their disposal than they have roster spots to fill.
It's also something to think about as the team dips further into free agency. We're not out of the Waiters woods yet — I personally won't feel safe until the ink dries on the dude's inevitable four-year, $70-million contract with Sacramento — and reports (later debunked by CSN's Jessica Camerato) had the Sixers pursuing former Sergio Rodriguez teammate Rudy Fernandez for a role on our wings. There are still a couple guys out there worth taking chances on, and maybe a couple Summer League prospects who pack some degree of allure, but at this point, another signee may come at the expense of someone on our current roster, and that's a trade-off that needs to be considered.
Day off for the Sixers in Utah today, before the the squad plays their final game of the mini-league against the Jazz Thursday night. Hopefully there'll be a reason to watch besides getting to see James Webb III be a big ol' weirdo.