The momentum behind Jonah Bolden's inevitable NBA debut has just received another significant shot in the arm, as the athletic big man has been added to the Philadelphia 76ers Las Vegas Summer league squad.
It will be the second Summer League appearance for Bolden, who was mightily impressive in his debut 12 months ago, before heading to Israel to hone his craft with Maccabi Tel Aviv. European news breaker David Pick first revealed the plan for the Sixers to seek clearance from the Israeli powerhouse, in the hope of allowing Bolden to join his NBA franchise in Vegas.
Bolden was impressive in his debut season overseas, averaging 7.2 points, 6.1 rebounds and 1.5 assists, across 29 appearances for Maccabi Tel-Aviv, in 21.1 minutes per contest. Despite speculation growing that he could pack his bags and direct his attention to an NBA debut in October, his Israeli club currently hold his rights for next season.
Former Philadelphia GM, Bryan Colangelo outlined the mechanics of the situation around Bolden's next moves when speaking with the media in May.
"He’s got an option, an NBA-out in his contract to come if it works out favourably for him and us," Colangelo said. "And that’s part of a negotiation. But the team, Maccabi, has his rights for next year in the event that he does not take advantage of his opt-out.”
Essentially, it is up to Bolden if he wants to declare his intentions to move stateside for the 2018-19 season, and then Philly will have to ensure a spot is available on their final 15-man roster for opening night.
But first up, Summer League play, as Bolden's agent Daniel Moldovan broke the news - quickly followed by a tweet from the man himself.
A physically mature 22-year-old, Bolden possesses a ready made NBA body. It will be intriguing to witness the development in the year since he last hit the hardwood in Sixers colours. An extremely impressive debut performance saw the 6'10" Aussie average 8.7 points and 6.2 rebounds per game in the summer showcase a year ago, sparking questions as to whether he would have looked to debut in the Association straight out of the draft.
Just prior to the start of last year's NBA season, ESPN’s Nick Metallinos spoke with Bolden about the process that followed his eye-opening Summer League performance.
“There was rumours about this and that, but they broke it down for me of why they couldn’t [add him] this year and I just respected that,” Bolden says. “For me [it’s an opportunity] to get another year to go improve my game and come back better next year.”
Improve his game he did, and now he will look to capitalise on a potential opening in the Sixers roster. Veteran forward Ersan Ilyasova was picked up by the Milwaukee Bucks in free agency, meaning he will join Matthew Dellavedova and Thon Maker in Wisconsin, while in the process opening up significant minutes that Bolden could stand to absorb.
Bolden is NBA bound, it's just a matter of time. A second impressive Summer League campaign may make the timing of that decision a mere formality.
The 2018 NBA Las Vegas Summer League tips off on Friday morning (AEST) - The 76ers’ first matchup is set to be against the Boston Celtics on Saturday morning.