K.J. McDaniels Shocks and Signs a One-Year Deal

K.J. McDaniels, the 32nd pick in this past June’s draft, has signed a one-year, non-guaranteed contract with the 76ers, making him a restricted free agent next offseason, per Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

A second-round selection out of Clemson, McDaniels is not forced into the rookie scale contracts of first rounders, allowing both him and his agent leeway in trying to negotiate a deal. Coming after the signing of fellow rookie second rounder Jerami Grant earlier in the week, it was assumed that McDaniels would sign a similar contract that pays him more like a first-round pick: two years of guaranteed salary at $885K, plus team options for the following two seasons. That figure isn’t terribly far off from what the 30th pick, the last first-round selection, would make over a contract ($911K for two seasons and two option years).

From the perspective of McDaniels and his agent, this is a risky development, but has potential to pay off greatly. On a team devoid of talent, McDaniels will have plenty of time to showcase his talent, particularly on the defensive side of the floor, and will likely start at one of the two wing positions. If he plays well enough, he’s looking at a multi-million-dollar annual salary on his next contract in 2015. If he doesn’t light it up, he could be in line for deal similar to what the Sixers were already offering currently.

This reminded me of the contract Lavoy Allen signed as a rookie second rounder with the Sixers, although under a different front office regime, in 2011:

Reminds me of the Lavoy Allen situation in 2011/12. Signed a 1yr deal as a 2nd rounder. Played well against KG in playoffs. Got 2yr/$6M.

— Shamus (@shamus_clancy) October 1, 2014

Fans should be impressed with McDaniels’ boldness. He’s illustrating a ton of confidence in his game as a rookie with a move that could completely alter the path of his career earnings. Whether this is foolish, Brandon Jennings-esque “Bucks in six,” confidence or a display of a Kobe-lite killer instinct remains to be seen, but McDaniels’ demeanor can only be a plus at this point.

For Sam Hinkie, this is a poor move after years of nailing the contracts of second-round players, dating back to his days with Daryl Morey and the Rockets. Just as he did this week with Grant and did in the past with Chandler Parsons (four-year deal worth $3.63 million) Hinkie likes to sign talented second rounders to contracts that pay them like first-round selections, but still underpays them in terms of the value they provide. McDaniels and his agent, Mark Bartelstein, clearly didn’t want to fall into that trap. Here’s what Bartelstein said, via Yahoo Sports:

“The 76ers have a philosophy that they’re adhering to, and we totally respect that, but it doesn’t fit for K.J. and us,” Bartelstein told Yahoo Sports on Wednesday morning. “I just totally disagree with the idea of doing a four-year deal that includes a structure of two non-guaranteed years. We think K.J. is going to be a good player, and it came down to doing a one-year deal and letting the market determine his value.

That philosophy is obviously referring to Hinkie’s structure of second-round picks’ contracts, not the organization’s longterm rebuilding plan.

McDaniels was only the second selection of the second round in this year’s draft. He had first-round talent, considering that Chad Ford had him ranked as his 24th-best prospect and Draft Express had him ranked at 18. If he makes use of that terrific defensive prowess, including a block rate of 8.9% as a junior wing player that ranked fourth in the ACC, the situation could ultimately work out favorably for both sides. McDaniels would be paid closer to his what he’s worth and the Sixers would have a stud defender with potential to grow offensively for just a few million dollars per season with their bundles of cap space.

It is worth remembering what happened the last time a Philadelphia sports team drafted a second-round player from Clemson:

McDaniels is the true Next Dawkins because he’s so confident that he’s going to be great. pic.twitter.com/7pJkADfqDX

— Shamus (@shamus_clancy) October 1, 2014

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