SALT LAKE CITY - The 76ers took some criticism for releasing Tony Wroten on Christmas Eve. However, that wasn't their intent.
They decided to cut the backup point guard in order to create a roster spot to complete the trade for Ish Smith from the New Orleans Pelicans. They just never intended for it to happen Thursday.
The Sixers wanted to make the trade on Saturday, the day after Christmas. However, the Pelicans pushed to make it happen on Thursday. As a result, Wroten received the bad news Thursday while the Sixers were on the trade call with the Pelicans. The point guard was home in Seattle with family members.
"It was disappointing to part ways with Tony," coach Brett Brown said Saturday. "He had been around me all my days there. It is part of sport. I hope he looks back knowing the coaches gave everything we could. For the most part, I think he did too.
"We wish him well."
Wroten averaged 8.4 points, 2.5 assists and 3.6 turnovers in eight games this season after being sidelined for the last 101/2 months due to a partially torn right anterior cruciate ligament.
With his departure, Nerlens Noel and Hollis Thompson are the only roster holdovers from the 2013-14 season.
Raving over Ish
While the Sixers are sad to see Wroten go, the team has been beaming with excitement over Smith's return to the franchise.
They initially acquired him in February off waivers. The Sixers, however, didn't re-sign him in the offseason.
But he jumped back in Saturday night like he never left in the 111-104 victory over the Phoenix Suns at Talk Stick Resort Arena. The Sixers' first offensive possession ended with him throwing an alley-oop to Nerlens Noel.
"I couldn't have scripted the first play of how it started any better," Brown said. "Then when you look at the end result, you couldn't have scripted that any better.
Brown said at one level the team is excited because it has a new boost.
"On another level, you wish you had it a while ago," he added. "Ish is a fantastic late addition. People on the outside can assume, but we all know in here how timely it really is."