Sixers waive Saben Lee, sign Louis King to two-way contract

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LOS ANGELES, CA – DECEMBER 01: Sacramento Kings Forward Louis King (23) dribbles the ball during an NBA game between the Los Angeles Clippers and the Sacramento Kings on December 1, 2021, at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Brandon Sloter/Icon Sportswire)

The Philadelphia 76ers are closing out 2022 with some small but important roster moves. Following the Sixers’ breakaway Christmas Day win over the New York Knicks – extending their lead to eight games – the team signed standout G-League forward Louis King to a two-way contract Monday morning. Adrian Wojnarowski was the first to report the news. 

A New Jersey native, King went undrafted in 2019 after playing one year for the Oregon Ducks, though he was quickly signed to a two-way contract by the Detroit Pistons. Following his first season, the 6’7” forward joined the Sacramento Kings, where he played in 16 games, averaging 5.6 points, 1.9 rebounds, and 1.1 assists in 11.8 minutes while shooting 30% from deep.

King has also spent time with G-League affiliates of the Pistons, Kings, Knicks, and, most recently, the Rockets. In 18 games this season for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, King has averaged 20 points, 4.4 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.4 steals, and 0.9 blocks while playing 33 minutes.

To make room, the team opted to waive veteran G Saben Lee while keeping rookie Julian Champagnie. The roster moves make sense as the team’s priorities shift along with players’ injury statuses. With James Harden, De’Anthony Melton, and Shake Milton all playing at the top of their game as Tyrese Maxey comes closer to returning to the court, the Sixers’ backcourt is in a much better position than it was a month ago when Lee was signed.

Now, the Sixers are shifting its focus to a more long-standing need – another outside wing who can shoot from deep. While Tobias Harris holds that role just fine, the rotation of PJ Tucker, Georges Niang, and Matisse Thybulle playing across from him often struggles mightily. Whatever your thoughts on Tucker and Thybulle, their contributions are almost entirely on defense, and while Niang is a serviceable shooter, he’s hit just 39% of his shots from the field in his last ten games.

King gives the Sixers another option as a wing, especially in games where the team must rely on shooting ability to win.