TJ McConnell, Not Aware of Contract Situation, Expects to Return to Sixers

CAMDEN, N.J. - There was no dress code for the Sixers' exit interviews Thursday, but when T.J. McConnell was notified of the meeting, he pulled his best look to wear to the practice facility. 

"Just trying to be professional," McConnell said. "I see the word ‘interview' and I don't think I'd ever go into an interview with sweatpants on or shorts. That was my mindset. 

"So I put my wedding suit on and came in and tried to impress Bryan (Colangelo) and Brett (Brown)." 

The navy blue wardrobe choice was apropos for McConnell's unwavering approach to the NBA: treat each game like an audition. That mentality has helped fuel a three-year career, one he is optimistic will continue with the Sixers next season. They hold a team option to pick up McConnell's $1.6 million contract. 

"I think they're going to exercise the option," McConnell said. "I didn't even know my contract had an option in it. I'm pretty sure they will, but we'll see."

McConnell's contract has a bargain price tag in today's NBA, especially given the point guard's production. He helped extend the Sixers' postseason with a standout performance (19 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists) in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. McConnell proved he's not just a backup; he can be a major contributor when it matters. 

"I think everyone's expectations for the minutes they want to play should be high," McConnell said. "But we've got a lot of good guys on this team. I obviously want to play as many minutes as I did toward the end of that series, but that's unfortunately not up to me. So we'll see what happens this summer and let the cards lie where they go." 

It's too early to tell what McConnell's role on the Sixers would look like next season. The organization has to shape its roster between current players, free agency and the draft. The backcourt is particularly up in the air because of the uncertainty of Markelle Fultz's production. Fultz was drafted No. 1 last year to play alongside Ben Simmons but spent the season injured or coming off the bench in limited minutes. When Fultz did play, he often took McConnell's backup minutes. 

"Markelle is a special player," McConnell said. "That's not a lie. When he plays at the level that they drafted him to play at, if there's a spot for me, great. If not, I'm not really sure what I can do about that. But unfortunately, that's out of my hands. But I'd love to be here."

His teammates would like him back, too.

"T.J. is amazing," Joel Embiid said. "I love him. I love the way he plays. Hopefully, he's with us for a long time."

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