Fan-Favorite Sniper Does Not Survive Sixers Roster Cuts

Isaiah Joe, Sixers

Getty Isaiah Joe #7 of the Philadelphia 76ers attempts a shot during the second half of the game against the Charlotte Hornets at Spectrum Center.

The deadline for NBA teams to cut down to 15 players is Saturday and each team around the league is making tough decisions on their final cuts. The Philadelphia 76ers are no different and the team seemed to make their decisions clear during the preseason finale against the Charlotte Hornets. The Sixers cruised to a 99-94 victory in the matchup where the starting unit was given the most on-court time they have throughout the preseason.

Even with the extended play from the starters, 17 different members of the Sixers rotated onto the court in the preseason finale. However, one of these players was not Isaiah Joe. This seemed to hint he could be on his way out of the Sixers organization and this proved true as the team released the young guard and allowed him to become a free agent.

Who is Isaiah Joe?

There was a great deal of buzz surrounding the Arkansas sniper even before he came to the Sixers. Rumors of a draft-night promise being given to the guard leaked and, whether they were true or not, the Sixers selected Joe with the 49th pick in the 2020 draft.

Through two years with the Sixers, Joe played a total of 992 minutes at the NBA level. He has never seen consistent on-court opportunities but showed some promising flashes in short bursts. Joe is a willing shooter with solid ball-handling ability and looks the part of an NBA guard moving forward. He also deserves a ton of credit for stepping up as a leader with the summer league team and had some impressive on-court performances during this stretch as well.

It should not come as a major surprise to see Joe being an odd-man out based on the preseason rotation. In the opening preseason matchup against the Nets, Joe played 17 minutes and added nine points, two assists, and two rebounds. He shot 3-6 on three-point attempts in the matchup. Joe did not receive any minutes in the following matchup before being tossed in the final eight minutes of Game 3 of the preseason. He added seven points and had a nice step-back three-pointer, but did not see the court in the final preseason game.

Following the game, Doc Rivers was asked about the rotation decisions by the media. When Joe was specifically brought up Rivers stated, “It’s just a lot of guards. Furk (Korkmaz) didn’t play in the first half. Shake (Milton) didn’t play in the first half. Matisse (Thybulle) didn’t play in the first half. So, there are a lot of guards on the team and you just gotta keep working and waiting your turn,” per Ky Carlin of SixersWire.

What’s Next for Joe?

It is frustrating that he has not had more of a clear opportunity with the Sixers during his two seasons with the team, but this surely is not the end of the road for the sniper. Kyle Neubeck of The Philly Voice also reported that there is some internal interest from the Sixers to bring back Joe on a two-way deal if he clears waivers. The 23-year-old will certainly prioritize a guaranteed NBA deal from another team if it comes his way and there is fair reason for optimism this will occur. The Sixers would also need to part ways with either Julian Champagnie or Charlie Brown Jr, who currently occupy the two-way slots, for this to become the case.

There also is a financial role in the decision as the Sixers stack their pieces to ensure they can make a move down the line if the opportunity presents itself. Joe was on a non-guaranteed deal for the summer and the Sixers do not owe him anything by releasing him today. Charles Bassey was also released with similar factors coming into play.

By cutting down to 14 players on the 15-man roster and releasing both of the young players, the Sixers saved roughly $3.3 million in salary on the season. This may not seem like much in the long run but could come into play when looking for the final pieces of their championship puzzle. Due to their already active offseason, the Sixers are considered hard-capped and cannot pass the tax threshold of $156,938,000 at any point this season.

Per SpotRac, the Sixers’ total hard-capped salaried currently stands at $151,109,998 meaning they have $5,828,002 under the limit to use. The team did not seem to view Bassey or Joe as players that could help contribute to their contention now and will look to use this amount on a player that can.

It is unfortunate to see Joe go but it certainly will not be the end of his NBA journey. If things break as the organization hopes, it may not even be the end of his Sixers journey. There are still sure to be some interesting decisions made as the team rounds out its roster as the release of Joe, Bassey, and Trevelin Queen brings the team down to 14 players at the moment.

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