This is part one of a season-ending series looking back at each player’s 2017-2018 campaign.
You’re probably wondering why we’d write about Jerryd Bayless, a 29-year-old veteran on a bad contract who is due to return next season for a little more than $8.5 million.
I guess that would be the answer right there, the fact that his cap hit going into the final year of a three-year deal is going to throw a wrench into the Sixers’ ability to flesh out an exciting young roster.
Beyond that, the plan is to do one of these articles for every player, so this is the starting point.
Bayless came out of the rotation in early February when Marco Belinelli was acquired. He spent the remaining 30 games on the bench and played 2 playoff minutes as part of a garbage time bench dump in the game one Boston loss.
He was first to the podium during last week’s exit interviews and the brief discussion with the media lasted about three minutes.
“It wasn’t easy,” said Bayless of the lack of late-season minutes. “This whole year, from an individual standpoint, wasn’t the easiest, but at the same time, when you’re around the group of guys we had, and the success we had, it made it easier. I’m really grateful I was able to be a part of this organization this year and we’ll see what happens moving forward.”
Bayless played 39 games this year and started 11, averaging 7.9 points, 2.1 rebounds, and 1.4 assists. He shot 41.6% overall and 37% from three, numbers that are nearly identical to those of Robert Covington. His net rating of -3.4 and defensive rating of 105.7 were below-average from a team-wide standpoint.
The veteran guard actually started the season decently enough, averaging 11.6 PPG on 46% three point shooting in October. But he re-injured the left wrist that kept him sidelined for almost the entirety of the 2016-17 campaign while fighting through a screen in early November:
Bayless drew a foul on that play and a great quote from Brett Brown:
“He did what you hope your guys do,” the head coach said in November. “You war through screens, and it produced an offensive foul by the screener. So if you are half-pregnant, like faking wanting to get through it, you’re either all in or you’re not, then you won’t get that call. In that case, he dipped his shoulder, he got through it, exposed the foul, but along the way he hurt his wrist. It’s a tough break.”
I didn’t think we’d hear a pregnancy comparison back then, but that’s what we got.
Bayless missed six games in November before returning in a bench role, putting up double digit points in home wins against Washington and Orlando. Interspersed were a few starting opportunities when JJ Redick suffered a midseason hamstring injury.
His best game was no doubt the Denver road win, when he shot 6-10 and 2-3 from three point range in a 14 point, 20 minute effort. Playing without Joel Embiid on the front-end of a back-to-back, Bayless went for a +22 on the evening, joining Richaun Holmes in a spirited, 40-point bench effort.
— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) December 31, 2017
The wrist issue popped up again in January, and Bayless missed another chunk of games before returning to play the first three games of February. That was pretty much it for the season.
All in all, a funky year for Bayless, who found himself in the starting lineup early due to Markelle Fultz’s struggles, then came out of the rotation entirely when Bryan Colangelo beefed up the bench right around the All Star break. It’s hard to quantify how much his veteran presence helped some of the younger guys on the squad, whether it was 2018, 2017, or the tail-end of 2016.
The Sixers will likely look to offload Bayless in the summer as a trade piece (maybe attach a 2nd rounder to him) or by using the stretch provision to streamline his cap hit.
“Bryan and his staff will make that decision,” Bayless said of his Sixers’ future. “We’ll see what happens.”
Whatever does happen, we’ll always have this:
— LeBron Jamemes (@Dorotha_Bulloch) May 14, 2018