The Philadelphia 76ers recently made moves at the trade deadline, in their search for missing pieces to the championship puzzle. Their front office acquired Alec Burks and Glenn Robinson III from the Golden State Warriors, sending three second-round picks in exchange. To make room for these new additions, the 76ers cut Trey Burke and traded James Ennis.
They also upgraded Norvel Pelle's two-way contract to a full NBA deal. After Philadelphia's front office chose to invest in Pelle, a 6'10 big man, Jonah Bolden's presence was made redundant. The Sydney native will have to find a new home, but where could he end up, and will he stay in the NBA?
Jonah Bolden is contracted on a $1,698,450 salary for the remainder of the 2019/20 NBA season. No team currently has enough cap space to pick up his salary outright, but several teams hold sizeable traded player exceptions (TPE), which allows them to exceed the cap and acquire waived players like Bolden.
1. Golden State Warriors
The Warriors currently hold a whopping four trade exceptions which could cover Bolden's salary. These came about after their front office moved Andre Iguodala, Willie Cauley-Stein, Jacob Evans and Omari Spellman. Golden State also happen to be two players short of a full roster, with only 13 players on the books right now.
Golden State could use a big man with perimeter shooting ability - they are currently running the likes of Marquese Chriss and Kevon Looney at the five spot. Although Draymond Green has been an effective small ball centre in the past, he isn't getting any younger and cannot sustain that role for a full game.
2. Detroit Pistons
The Pistons currently have a full 15-man roster, but are nonetheless shorthanded in the front court. Christian Wood and Thon Maker have occupied the paint since Andre Drummond was sensationally traded at the deadline. This trade generated an exception which could cover Bolden's salary.
The Pistons are also holding onto a sizeable disabled player exception, courtesy of Blake Griffin's season-ending injury. Could we see Bolden playing alongside fellow Australian Thon Maker in Detroit? Stranger things have happened.
3. Houston Rockets
Like Golden State, the Rockets only have 13 players on their active roster at the time of writing. They also hold two trade exceptions which could cover Bolden's salary. Houston coach Mike D'Antoni is has deployed a revolutionary --small, even by the modern NBA's small ball standards-- lineup in recent games, running 6'5 veteran P.J. Tucker at centre.
Bolden wouldn't look out of place on a Rockets team that is currently devoid of size. The 24 year old is mobile for a big man and doesn't hesitate to shoot from the perimeter.
4. Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers are two names short of a full 15-man roster. They currently have one trade exception that is appropriate for Bolden's salary, after sending Jerome Robinson to the Wizards.
The Clippers' frontcourt is currently led by the likes of Ivica Zubac and Montrezl Harrell. Bolden's combination of size and perimeter shooting is something the team lacks at the moment.
Not too long ago, Bolden was an afterthought among NBA draft prospects, following a disappointing collegiate career. His decision to leave UCLA in 2016 was the best of his young career. The Sydney native subsequently found great success in Europe, and NBA scouts took notice.
Jonah Bolden might be able to get his career back on track in the EuroLeague, which is arguably the second-best league in the world. The big man previously played for Israeli heavyweight Maccabi Tel Aviv, and held his own against seasoned professionals. One could argue that playing important minutes in Europe would be more beneficial for his game, as opposed to sitting on the bench in the NBA.
Bolden's career is at a crossroads, and the next step could be more important than it seems.