A 76ers tenure full of ailments and unfulfilled expectations is coming to an end.
The Sixers are trading shooting guard Zhaire Smith to the Detroit Pistons for Tony Bradley, a league source confirmed on Sunday. The Pistons are expected to waive Smith and stretch his $3.2 million salary for this upcoming season, according to Yahoo Sports! He’ll get all of the money this season, which is the final year of his deal.
But the stretch provision is used to get unwanted money off the books. A team waives a player and his remaining salary is stretched over twice the number on his contract plus one on the books.
This is the second time Bradley will be traded in a week. The Pistons acquired Bradley and Saben Lee from the Utah Jazz on Wednesday for cash. That deal was made official on Sunday.
Bradley, a 6-foot-10, 248-pounder, was the 28th overall pick in the 2017 draft out of North Carolina. Bradley, 22, averaged 4.9 points, 4.6 rebounds and 11.4 minutes in 58 appearances with three starts last season.
He has averaged 4.4 points and 4.2 rebounds in 70 career games over three seasons.
Smith, 21, was a bad fit for the Sixers, who never gave him a real opportunity to showcase his skills. It’s obvious that acquiring him in a 2018 draft-night shocker was a wasted opportunity for both parties.
His two-season tenure was marred by bad luck, as he failed to remain healthy. Smith suffered a bone bruise in his left knee in May and didn’t travel with the Sixers to Orlando for the NBA restart. As a result, the guy the Sixers unsuccessfully tried to trade in February concluded that season with an average of 1.1 points in seven appearances. He averaged 3.7 points in 13 career games.
That’s far from the output expected of a player who former Sixers coach Brett Brown said reminded him of Los Angeles Clippers All-Star Kawhi Leonard.
The first difference is that Smith stands just 6-foot-2, five inches shorter than Leonard. Smith was also an undersized power forward during his lone season at Texas Tech while trying to make the transition to guard. So he’s still considered a project.
That’s why the Sixers were vilified on social media and on local sports talk radio the moment they traded Villanova and Great Valley High School product Mikal Bridges on draft night to the Phoenix Suns for Smith, the 16th overall pick, and a 2021 first-round draft pick. The trade came 38 minutes after the Sixers drafted Bridges with the 10th pick.
Bridges is one of the league’s top young three-and-D players, averaging 8.7 points and 1.5 steals in 155 games with 88 starts.
Smith has spent more time injured or with the Sixers’ G League affiliate, the Delaware Blue Coats, than with the Sixers.
Smith suffered an acute Jones fracture in his left foot while competing in training camp in August 2018. He was expected to return from the injury that December. However, he remained out until March 25, 2019, because of a life-threatening allergic reaction to something he ate in September. The reaction left him speechless and 40 pounds lighter. He played in only six NBA games that season.