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Council signs hard-earned new deal; Nurse says he's ‘right on the edge' of rotation 

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CAMDEN, N.J. — Ricky Council IV will be eligible for the NBA playoffs in his rookie year. 

The Sixers announced Saturday that they signed Council, who’d been on a two-way deal, to a standard NBA contract. 

Council’s new deal is for four years and $7.4 million, The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported.

Undrafted following his junior season at Arkansas, Council began this season with the Delaware Blue Coats. The 6-foot-6 wing averaged 23.8 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.9 assists overall in the G League while showing significant progress with his jump shot.

After going 28.4 percent from three-point range over his last two college seasons, Council made 38 percent of his G League triples and attempted 6.0 per game. 

“Just believing in myself and staying focused,” Council said on Jan. 2 after making his Sixers debut. “A couple of months ago, nobody thought I could even hit the rim. Now I’m back to my old self. Just want to stay consistent with it and the sky’s the limit.”

Council has exuded both confidence and maturity in the NBA. He’s expected himself to be great while recognizing the Sixers don’t want him to do it all. The 22-year-old has generally provided solid, physical defense, drawn fouls at a high rate, and avoided rash decisions. Council has committed just four turnovers in 281 total minutes. 

In his first extended NBA chance outside of garbage time, Council was fantastic. He posted a 19-point, 10-rebound game in the Sixers’ Feb. 10 road win over the Wizards and played with exceptional tenacity. 

“I just feel like I’m a dog,” Council said that night. “A lot of people say it, but not a lot of people are about it. When I’m out there … I don’t know, I can’t really explain it. I don’t see nothing but the goal and my teammates. It doesn’t matter — LeBron (James), the best players in the world. Much respect to them, but I’m just trying to help my team win when I’m out there.”

Other highlights for Council this season include clutch free throws against the Cavs and lots of late-game excellence in the Sixers’ double-overtime victory Sunday over the Spurs.

Sixers head coach Nick Nurse was full of praise for Council following the team’s practice Saturday. And without prompting, he raised the possibility of Council being called upon for meaningful playoff minutes.  

“First of all, I think that’s a heck of an accomplishment for him,” Nurse said. “I would’ve said yes, we were excited on draft night when we got him to agree to come play for us. I thought his summer league was so-so. But since then, man, he’s really done a great job. He’s absolutely earned this spot with everything he’s done. I keep saying this: He competes. Every day he goes hard here. … Walkthroughs or whatever, he’s doing them hard. 

“His shooting has improved. He’s got a unique kind of athleticism that lets him drive and draw fouls. He’s a little bit versatile on defense. He can guard on the perimeter. He can guard up, again because of his athleticism.  

“I would say there were at least three times last night (vs. the Magic) I just about pulled the trigger to put him in the rotation. So he’s right on the edge of that, depending on what we’re seeing, who’s out there, what the foul trouble is and all that kind of stuff. We feel like, just like in the San Antonio game, he’s a little bit of an X-factor guy. He can go in there and sometimes just change energy and change rhythm or make a few plays. So I’m really happy for him.”

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