BOSTON — T.J. McConnell came into the NBA in 2015 as an undrafted rookie out of Arizona, battling for a final roster spot.
But the reserve point guard has defied odds by becoming a major player in the 76ers' turnaround. And opposing teams are taking notice.
The Phoenix Suns approached the Sixers in recent weeks about acquiring McConnell in a trade, according to several league sources. The Suns offered a second-round pick and the Sixers declined the offer.
In desperate need of a point guard, Phoenix reportedly also expressed interest in Patrick Beverly of the Los Angeles Clippers, Cory Joseph of the Indiana Pacers and Spencer Dinwiddie of the Brooklyn Nets.
The problem is that the Suns were only shopping second-round picks for the point guards.
That definitely wasn't going to get a deal done for McConnell, who has established himself with the Sixers.
The 6-foot-2, 190-pounder took career averages of 6.4 points, 5.1 assists, 3.1 rebounds and 1.3 steals into Tuesday's season opener against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden. The fourth-year veteran had played in 238 games with 69 starts entering the season.
McConnell plays with a spirit that cannot be quantified on a stat sheet. He was the main reason the Sixers forced a Game 5 in last season's Eastern Conference semifinal series against the Celtics.
He was thrust into the starting lineup with the Sixers down three games to none and on the verge of elimination. McConnell responded by finishing with 19 points on 9-for-12 shooting. He also had eight rebounds and five assists.
During the 2016-17 season, the Cleveland Cavaliers wanted to put together a deal that would have brought Jordan McRae to Philly in exchange for McConnell. The Sixers declined.