It’s been a rough couple of days in “Sixers Land.” The team traded away two of its better players at the trade deadline, announced that Ben Simmons will miss the rest of the season, and said that Joel Embiid will be out indefinitely with knee soreness. What is also concerning is that the Sixers are running short of able bodies. But the Sixers will have adequate means to add two players to the roster, if they so choose.
Once Andrew Bogut’s buyout is completed in the next couple of days, a 15th roster spot will become available. However, the Sixers can also add an additional 16th player to the roster using the hardship exception.
Here are the parameters of using this exception, according to Larry Coon’s CBA FAQ:
“A hardship can be deemed to exist when a team has four players who are sick or injured and have missed at least three regular season games, and will continue to be unable to play. If a hardship is granted, the hardship ends when one of the sick or injured players is physically able to resume playing. The team must then release player(s) to get back to the roster limit, although teams have the option to retain the hardship player and release a different player to get back to the limit.”
This exception uses a temporary 16th spot if at least four of the fifteen players on a team are hurt or sick and can’t return to the court in the next two weeks. The Sixers utilized this exemption last season by adding Phil Pressey to the roster when Carl Landry, Kendall Marshall, Tony Wroten, and Joel Embiid were all injured. The Miami Heat used it earlier this season, by adding Marcus Georges-Hunt for a short time.
This exception can’t be best utilized until the Sixers waive Bogut and add another player, putting the roster at 15. The Sixers could then claim that Ben Simmons, Jerryd Bayless, Joel Embiid, and Tiago Splitter will all miss the next two weeks, granting them an additional roster spot using the hardship exception.
One may argue that the Sixers should just cut Splitter, since it appears that he won’t play this season. It doesn’t make much financial sense to do so because then the Sixers will be on the hook to pay his remaining salary (around $2.2 million). If they keep on the roster, his contract will be covered by insurance, meaning his salary will only appear on the Sixers books, but they are not obligated to pay him.
As the roster stands now, the Sixers could potentially add a third point guard, a third-string center behind Okafor and Holmes, or a true backup power forward behind Dario Saric to fill the additional two roster spots.
There are some intriguing prospects in the D-League that could be brought in, such as the 87ers’ own Shawn Long (2017 D-League All-Star), who could fill in as the backup power forward or third-string center. There is also recently waived Pelicans power forward Terrence Jones, who could be a nice upside play for the Sixers. The D-League also has some good guard options as well, like Vander Blue, Elijah Millsap, and Anthony Brown.
While the news of the team being without its top two prospects is discouraging, the Sixers have the means to add two players late in the season that could stick on the roster for years to come if given the opportunity.