The Philadelphia 76ers made a minor move for depth on Tuesday when the team inked Gary Clark Jr. to a two-way deal. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski was the first to report the news.
The Denver Nuggets waived Clark on April 8 so the 6-foot-6 versatile forward is playoff-eligible. He’ll take over the roster spot vacated by Mason Jones after the Sixers waived the rookie shooting guard last week. The 26-year-old broke into the NBA as an undrafted rookie out of Cincinnati in 2018.
He was initially signed by the Houston Rockets when current Sixers president Daryl Morey’s was general manager there. Clark has seen action in 37 games this season while bouncing between the Orlando Magic and Denver Nuggets. He averaged 3.4 points and 3.2 rebounds in 18.2 minutes per game and last played on April 7.
Clark’s presence could be nothing more than a “minutes-eater” for the final four games as the Sixers look to rest key players. Philadelphia can clinch the No. 1 seed with a victory over the Indiana Pacers tonight. The Sixers will need extra bodies to throw out on the court once they secure home-court advantage.
Or, looking at Morey’s history with Clark, maybe they see additional value in having another “three-and-D” player on the playoff roster. He has played in seven career playoff games, including a memorable appearance for the Magic in last year’s first round. He drilled 11 three-pointers in that series and scored 15 points in Game 1.
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Clark Enjoyed Successful Collge Career
Despite not being drafted out of college, Clark enjoyed a very successful career at Cincinnati where he started as a true freshman. He was a two-time American Athletic Conference (AAC) Defensive Player of the Year while averaging 10.5 points and 8.1 rebounds per game over four seasons. He shot 38.3% from deep in 139 games, plus clogged the lane at the rate of 1.3 blocks per game.
The North Carolina native was named AAC Player of the Year in 2018 and Most Outstanding Player of the AAC Tournament. From there, Clark went to the Rockets where he got an extended look after the team traded Carmelo Anthony.
The 225-pounder also won an NBA G-League championship in 2019 with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. Clark’s most recent stop was a brief two-game stay in Denver after he came over as a throw-in player in the deadline deal for Aaron Gordon. He was released on April 8.
Sixers Bench Struggling in Recent Weeks
The Sixers’ bench isn’t necessarily a problem, but it hasn’t been an asset down the stretch. Doc Rivers has had to put his starters back in several games after the reserves blew double-digit leads. The head coach has repeatedly said he isn’t worried about it, but the decision to add Clark certainly raises a few trust issues.
“No, I’m not worried about it. I go all 60 games, they’ve been pretty good overall,” Rivers said of his bench on May 7. “We’ve went through stretches this year where the starters weren’t playing well, it’s just ebbs and flows of a long season. I learned long ago if you overreact you get yourself in trouble. So I’m not that concerned at all.”