K.J. McDaniels, the 2014 second-round pick that unconventionally signed only a one-year contract last season, has seen his bet on himself pay off. He will sign a three-year, $10 million contract to stay with the Houston Rockets, according to SB Nation's own Jake Pavorsky. The deal will have a player option for the third season.
McDaniels confirmed the re-signing on his Twitter account.
McDaniels surprised the NBA by accepting a one-year, fully-unguaranteed minimum contract with the Philadelphia 76ers prior to last season. Second-round picks traditionally sign minimum-salary deals that guarantee at least one year with a second-year team option, but several clubs, including the 76ers, were choosing instead to offer four-year contracts that have one or two years guaranteed for slightly more than the minimum, but give the club team options for the rest of the contract. The benefit for the team is obvious: should the player break out, the team would control them for a dirt-cheap price during many of their prime years. Several second-rounders and undrafted rookies, including Philly teammates Robert Covington and Jerami Grant, accept that contract anyway because it offers more immediate guaranteed money.
McDaniels, however, chose a different path. Knowing that he'd have an opportunity to play big minutes on a poor 76ers team, he decided to reject Philadelphia's team-friendly offer and instead took the shortest possible deal, even if he could be cut at any time. It's a risk because he could easily have been released and out of the league without a paycheck.
Yet McDaniels' bet paid off because he emerged as an exciting player early in the season for the 76ers. He averaged nine points, four rebounds and over a block a game in 25 minutes per contest and seemed to be a long-term part of Philadlephia's future. But instead of keeping him, the 76ers dealt him to Houston at the trade deadline, where McDaniels was buried on the bench behind veteran options.
Nevertheless, Houston saw enough to give McDaniels a mult-year deal. He will have to fight for minutes behind Trevor Ariza, Corey Brewer and perhaps first-round pick Sam Dekker, but he has the long-term contract he desired from the start.