Jerryd Bayless took the first step to getting acclimated with his new team when he made his season debut Monday against the Heat.
The Sixers signed Bayless to a three-year, $27 million deal this offseason with the intention of him being the starting point guard. The outlook was that he could bring veteran leadership in his ninth season and versatility with the ability to play the one or the two.
Bayless suffered a left wrist injury, though, and only participated in the first day of training camp. Last week, he practiced with the D-League affiliate Delaware 87ers, as part of his rehab. Bayless was cleared to play in the Sixers’ 14th game of the regular season.
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“It’s going to take a little bit to get back into a flow and a rhythm,” Bayless said after the Sixers' 101-94 win (see game story). “Overall I felt OK.”
Bayless clocked over 15 minutes off the bench. His shot looked rusty as he went 1 for 7 from the field, 0 for 2 from three, and made both free throw attempts. On the other hand, he showed his point guard experience by dishing five assists, the same number as starter Sergio Rodriguez. Bayless did grab his wrist during the game, and said afterward he was “fine.”
“There’s a physicality to him that he’s a man and he’s got a toughness to him and an edge,” Sixers head coach Brett Brown said. “You saw a few times, he gets in traffic, he’s got a bounce. He’s completely raw right now, as he should be. … I saw good things and I saw a veteran, physical guard that I think can play some combo stuff for us.”
The Sixers plan to utilize Bayless as a reserve behind Rodriguez for the time being as he gets healthier and more adjusted to the team. The Sixers' schedule is packed with games and little room for practice, so he will be learning on the fly.
“He was trying to get us organized and his heart was in the right place,” Brown said. “Sometimes we like to play with a bit more flow and not play as static. I think that as he feels more comfortable and starts understanding, I do not want to call a play every time down the floor, you want to have some flow. I feel like he was trying to find that balance of being a leader and a point guard, then trying to find some pace and flow. You can see where he will be once he starts playing more and gets more comfortable with his group and me and the team and the language.”
Bayless played only a small sample size of what his role is projected to be, but in that showing the Sixers were glad to have another experienced player on the court.
“He was good,” Joel Embiid said. “He’s still getting his feet wet. He’s going to help us a lot.”