Zhaire Smith, a first-round draft pick in 2018 who missed most of last season because of injury and illness, will report along with 2019 second-rounder Marial Shayok to the 76ers’ G League affiliate, the Delaware Blue Coats.
Neither player traveled with the Sixers for their two-game road trip (Saturday in Detroit and Monday in Atlanta).
The Sixers announced that the two would be working this weekend with the player development staff before reporting Monday to the Blue Coats’ training camp.
Neither Smith nor Shayok had much chance to earn any immediate significant playing time with the Sixers.
“Let’s start with playing,” Sixers coach Brett Brown said after practice Friday, when asked for the reason for the move. “They are not sitting on the sidelines, watching the starting five and the backup five play. They are playing.”
It really isn’t surprising that Smith is headed to the G League, despite his high draft position.
He was the 16th overall selection by the Phoenix Suns out of Texas Tech in 2018 and was traded to the Sixers on draft night.
Before he could begin his rookie season, Smith suffered an acute Jones fracture in his left foot while training and underwent surgery. He was expected to return in December but remained out because of an allergic reaction to something he ate last September.
In all, the 6-foot-3, 210-pound Smith appeared in just six games for the Sixers last season while also playing 11 games for the Blue Coats.
Known as an excellent defender, whose offensive game needs refinement, Smith was expected to challenge for one of the Sixers’ wing spots off the bench this season.
The emergence of this year’s first-round pick, Matisse Thybulle, left no meaningful minutes for Smith, who turned 20 in June.
The 24-year-old Shayok, listed at 6-foot-4½, was the 54th overall selection in this past NBA draft. He was penciled to play in the G League this season since he is signed to a two-way contract.
A player on a two-way contract spends the bulk of the season in the G League and not more than 45 days with the NBA team.
Shayok began his career at the University of Virginia and, after sitting out a season, transferred to Iowa State for his senior season. He averaged 18.7 points per game for the Cyclones.
The Sixers were also going to send center Norvel Pelle to the Blue Coats but decided to take him on the road trip after Joel Embiid and Mike Scott were listed as questionable with ankle sprains.
Eventually Pelle, who is also on a two-way contract, is expected to return to the Blue Coats.