By Kevin McPherson
LITTLE ROCK — Former Arkansas star guard and NBA free agent Isaiah Joe signed a 3-year contract worth nearly $6 million with the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday, just three days after being waived by the Philadelphia 76ers.
Joe arrived in Oklahoma City on Sunday after agreeing to terms with the Thunder on Saturday.
The first year of the deal will be for $1.84 million fully guaranteed with the remainder of the nearly $6 million spread out over years two and three (year two is non-guaranteed and the final year is a team option), a source confirmed with Hogville.net on Saturday.
The source told Hogville that more than half of the NBA’s 30 teams had inquired about Joe in the two days following his release from the Sixers and prior to his agreement with the Thunder on Saturday.
Joe (6-4 guard, Fort Smith native) will be reunited with former Fort Smith Northside high school teammate, former Arkansas star, and current Thunder rookie big man Jaylin Williams. According to reporting by NBA insider Shams Charania of The Athletic, the Thunder “plan to waive (veteran guard / forward) David Nwaba among others to create roster space” to sign Joe.
Joe’s rookie contract with Philadelphia was for three years at nearly $4.2 million, with the first two years guaranteed for more than $2.4 million. He was due to have his third year guaranteed at just over $1.78 million IF he remained on the Sixers’ 15-player roster by opening day of the 2022-23 regular season (Oct. 18), but the club opted for roster flexibility by freeing up a spot while moving roughly $5.5 million below the league’s salary cap by waiving Joe and second-year big man Charles Bassey on Thursday.
Joe was productive and efficient in two years worth of preseason and summer league games with the Sixers — the team that drafted him 49th overall (second round) in 2020 — but in both regular seasons (’20-21 and ’21-22) he only occasionally (and briefly) cracked the top 10 rotation on a veteran-laden squad that was and remains under the leadership of team president Daryl Morey and head coach Doc Rivers, both of whom are entering their third seasons with Philadelphia.
In the most-recent preseason, Joe played in 2 of Philadelphia’s 4 games and totaled 16 points (6-of-13 field goals, including 4-of-8 from 3), 3 assists, 2 rebounds, and 1 turnover in a combined 25 minutes. He did not play in the 76ers’ win over the Charlotte Hornets in the team’s final preseason game on Wednesday, Oct. 12, and the next day he was waived.
Joe — the SEC’s leading three-point shooter spanning his two seasons at Arkansas (’18-19 and ’19-20) — played in 96 games as a Sixer (he made 2 starts) while averaging 3.7 points, 1.0 rebound, 0.6 assists, 0.3 steals, 0.1 blocks, and 0.3 turnovers in 10.3 minutes per game while shooting 35.5% from the field, including 84-of-241 from 3 for for 34.9%, and 47-of-55 from the free throw line for 85.5%.
Joe’s NBA career-high in single-game scoring is 18 points that he achieved twice, the first time as a rookie on the road against Atlanta in ’20-21 and the second time at home against Houston in ’21-22. He scored in double-figures a total of 11 times (in 5 games last season, and in 6 games as a rookie in the previous campaign).
Joe appeared in a total of 11 NBA Playoff games spanning the two seasons, combining for 7 points in a collective 24 minutes.