The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Thursday night, after the conclusion of the 2017 NBA Draft, that the Philadelphia 76ers signed former Maryland guard Melo Trimble as an undrafted free agent.
The deal, according to the report, is for Trimble to play for the Sixers' summer league team in July.
After selecting University of Washington guard Markelle Fultz with the first overall pick, the 76ers made four selections in the second round of the draft. Philly also signed two other big-name prospects who went undrafted: Isaiah Briscoe from Kentucky and James Blackmon Jr. from Indiana.
To Terps fans unfamiliar with the 76ers' recent history, it's important to learn about the history of #TrustTheProcess before we try to determine how Trimble can fit in Philadelphia.
A brief history
The 76ers have been one of the NBA's worst teams for the past several years: For three straight seasons starting with the 2013-2014 season, they failed to win 20 of their 82 games. They improved to 28-54 in 2016-2017, but in each of these seasons they were one of the two worst teams in the Eastern Conference.
The period has been marked by a process of allegedly rebuilding for the future by trading the team's top players for draft picks, especially when Sam Hinkie was Philadelphia's general manager from 2013 until his resignation in April 2016. Hinkie traded former All-Star Jrue Holliday to New Orleans in 2013 for Nerlens Noel and a 2014 first-round pick. The Sixers also drafted Michael Carter-Williams that year, and he won the NBA Rookie of the Year award, but MCW would later be traded away in 2015. (Noel, too, didn't last long in Philly before being traded to Dallas.)
The Sixers selected third overall in the draft in 2014 and 2015, taking centers Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor in back-to-back years, and then first overall in 2016, taking forward Ben Simmons. But Embiid didn't play in the first two years of his career due to a broken bone in his foot, and Simmons missed his entire rookie campaign by breaking his foot at the end of training camp in 2016.
That string of bad luck with injuries combined with the constant trading of promising players angered many Sixers fans and drew accusations of tanking, while others who believed in Hinkie's strategy were more patient and "trusted the process," giving birth to a catch phrase known round the basketball world.
Now it's 2017, and the Sixers drafted first overall once again after a trade with the Boston Celtics. They took Fultz, a former DeMatha High School star who grew up in Upper Marlboro, coincidentally the same town as Melo Trimble.
Trimble will have plenty of competition in Philly at his position. In addition to Markelle Fultz, the Sixers drafted Oklahoma State point guard Jawun Evans in the second round Thursday and also have veterans TJ McConnell and Sergio Rodriguez on the roster. Blackmon and Briscoe play guard as well.
That's why the NBA Summer League, an exhibition league with games from July 7-17, is so important for Trimble. First impressions are important, and he needs to show the team early why he's a better option than the rest.
NBA teams can only have 15 players on their active rosters at a time when the season rolls around, but another possibility–though hardly glamorous–is the NBA's developmental league, once called the D-League but now rebranded as the G-League. (As in the NBA Gatorade League. Yes, I'm serious.)
If the 76ers like what they see from Trimble and want to keep him around, but they don't have enough space on the NBA roster when the regular season arrives, they can stash him on their G-League team, called the Delaware 87ers. (Yes. I'm serious.)
Signing with Philly clearly doesn't guarantee Trimble an NBA job, but it's a great first step — better than playing in a European league, at least. If he has a great summer and outperforms his new teammates, and even if he has to spend time in Delaware, Trimble can see NBA action in a Sixers uniform before we know it.
And on a team that eventually could feature a healthy starting lineup of Fultz, Simmons, Okafor and Embiid, we'll all be glad that Trimble trusted the process.