76ers Exercise T.J. McConnell, Richaun Holmes Contract Options

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistJune 13, 2018

PHILADELPHIA, PA - APRIL 10: Richaun Holmes #22 is chest-bumped by T.J. McConnell #1 of the Philadelphia 76ers after his dunk against the Indiana Pacers during the second quarter at the Wells Fargo Center on April 10, 2017 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Pacers won 120-111. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Corey Perrine/Getty Images)
Corey Perrine/Getty Images

The Philadelphia 76ers announced Wednesday they exercised the fourth-year contract options for point guard T.J. McConnell and center Richaun Holmes, keeping them under contract for the 2018-19 campaign. 

Each player will make $1.6 million next season, per Spotrac.com.

McConnell, 26, signed with the Sixers as an undrafted free agent in 2015 and has established himself as a solid backcourt option for the team. In the 2017-18 season, he served as the backup point guard, averaging 6.3 points, 4.0 assists, 3.0 rebounds and 1.2 steals in 22.4 minutes per game. 

His defense was a consistent plus off the bench, and his ability to operate in the pick-and-roll gave the Sixers a different dynamic while he was on the floor. While Markelle Fultz could eat into McConnell's playing time this upcoming season if he regains his jumper and becomes a reliable contributor, McConnell is a solid option to have off the bench and has become one of the team's emotional leaders.

Holmes, 24, was a second-round pick by the Sixers in the 2015 NBA draft. He was expected to serve as Joel Embiid's primary backup in the 2017-18 season but appeared in just 50 games, as Amir Johnson largely earned the backup minutes at center.

While Holmes is talented on the offensive end—he averaged 6.5 points and 4.4 rebounds in 15.5 minutes per contest, often finishing lobs at the rim and showcasing the ability to drive and finish against slower, less athletic big men—his struggles as a rim-protector kept him locked into third-string duties. 

With Holmes on the court, the Sixers had a defensive rating of 106.2, per NBA.com. Without him, that number dipped to 101.0. And Johnson's on-court defensive rating was 101.3, a major upgrade over Holmes. 

It's unclear if Johnson will be retained by the Sixers this offseason, or if they'll add another big man in free agency to back up Embiid.

Jonah Bolden is expected to join the team after spending a season in Europe and could compete for backup center minutes as well. But if Holmes improves on the defensive end, he has the potential to be an excellent option off the bench for Philly.

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