Release of Norvel Pelle opens up the door for creativity at backup center

NBA: MAR 01 76ers at Clippers
LOS ANGELES, CA – MARCH 01: Philadelphia 76ers Center Norvel Pelle (14) looks on during a NBA game between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Los Angeles Clippers on March 1, 2020 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire)

The release of Norvel Pelle could signal some creative lineups for the Sixers in 2021.

According to Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Philadelphia 76ers have officially waved backup center Norvel Pelle. The move frees up an additional $1.5 million for Daryl Morey to play with this offseason, but does create a glaring hole at the backup center position.

Following Al Horford’s departure via trade prior to the draft, and a guy like Kyle O’Quinn set to be an unrestricted free agent, the Sixers are noticeably thin when it comes to bodies behind Joel Embiid. While this initially could be cause for concern, it could also signal a new wave of creativity taking place in Philadelphia.

During his post-draft press conference, Daryl Morey was asked about the backup center position (specifically its thinness), and he gave a relatively intriguing answer. He highlighted Ben Simmons as someone who the team could play around as a small-ball five.

The specific word that he used was “experimenting”.

Outside of Simmons potentially logging minutes at center, the Sixers selected DePaul power forward Paul Reed with their final pick in the second round. Reed possesses an impressive athletic build and is someone who could also step in as a floor-spacing center. It makes sense for Reed to start the season off in the G-League on a two-way contract, but there’s definitely a pathway to him helping out the Sixers’ main roster this season.

Pelle was a really fun player to watch during the brief time he spent on the Sixers main roster. He was a complete menace around the rim defensively, averaging 4.8 blocks per 36 minutes (which is completely ridiculous by the way). Ultimately speaking however, Pelle was an extremely limited player offensively and his actual low-post defense was suspect as well. Daryl Morey likely has other, better plans when it comes to filling in the backup center position, and it could very involve pieces they already possess on the roster.

Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire