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January 15, 2020

Source: Sixers will not convert Norvel Pelle's two-way contract before deadline

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Norvel-Pelle_011620_usat Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports

Philadelphia 76ers forward Norvel Pelle.

The Sixers will not convert Norvel Pelle's two-way contract into a standard NBA deal in advance of Wednesday's deadline to sign two-way players, a team source told PhillyVoice on Wednesday afternoon.

January 15th is the last day NBA teams can sign players to two-way contracts, and there was speculation that Pelle, who had played his way into the rotation as of late, would be converted to a standard contract in order to bring in another developmental piece on a two-way deal. 

While the Sixers were potentially interested in bringing on another developmental player, the team is currently focused on preserving as much salary cap flexibility as possible heading into the trade deadline, PhillyVoice was told, which meant keeping Pelle on his current two-way deal for the time being.

The Sixers have not ruled out converting Pelle's deal altogether, and this move is primarily connected to salary cap mechanics for trades that could take place between now and the deadline on February 6th. Two-way players do not count against the salary cap, and converting Pelle's deal would add money to Philadelphia's books for this season.

Salary-matching rules in the NBA differ depending on where a team ends up after a trade is completed. The short explanation (these salary numbers are rounded off for simplicity's sake):

  1. THE FOLLOWING APPLIES IF THE SIXERS ARE UNDER THE TAX FOLLOWING A TRADE: If they send out less than $6.5 million in salary, they can acquire 175% of the outgoing salary plus $100,000. If they send out between $6.5 million and $19.6 million, they can acquire the outgoing salary plus $5 million. If they send out $19.6 million or more, they can acquire 125% of outgoing salary plus $100,000. 
  2. THE FOLLOWING APPLIES IF THE SIXERS ARE OVER THE TAX THRESHOLD FOLLOWING A TRADE: No matter what the Sixers send out in outgoing salary, the Sixers can acquire up to 125% of the outgoing salary plus $100,000.

As you can see in the above scenarios, there are more versions of trades that can be made if the Sixers manage to stay under the tax following trades. While declining to convert Pelle's deal at this time doesn't guarantee they will be a below-the-tax team following a potential trade, it does give them a bit more wiggle room – Philadelphia has roughly $4.2 million of space under the tax at the moment. 

Pelle will be active for the Sixers on Wednesday night, which will leave the Sixers with two days of remaining service time on his current two-way deal. Once those two days are up, he can't be with the Sixers again until after the conclusion of the G-League season on March 28th or until/unless his contract is converted to a standard NBA deal at a later date.

This was a situation where the Sixers were forced with tough choices on either side of that decision. Converting Pelle, adding that salary, and cutting a player who could be a potential throw-in for salary-matching purposes would limit Philadelphia's deadline options, even if only by a small margin. With the Sixers in the hunt for an upgrade who can help tie together the team, hampering flexibility to convert the contract of another big man and open a spot for a two-way player would have been a tough call.

But it seems the Sixers have been exploring that path anyway. According to Sam Vecenie of The Athletic, the Sixers had been in contact with multiple agents to potentially get G-League prospects on multiple-year two-way contracts:

Since this doesn't remove the opportunity to convert Pelle's contract at a later date, this seems like the superior option out of the two potential paths. The ability to take on a little extra salary before the deadline is more meaningful to a team hoping to contend than a midseason pact with a G-League player.

Now it's up to Elton Brand and the front office to use that little bit of flexibility and find a suitable upgrade to the rotation between now and early February.

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