76ers

Sixers rookie Zhaire Smith will play rest of Delaware Blue Coats' season

Sixers rookie Zhaire Smith will play rest of Delaware Blue Coats' season

Zhaire Smith made his professional debut Friday night, logging 15 minutes in the Delaware Blue Coats’ loss to the Maine Red Claws.

Saturday, he sat in front of a podium, asked to reflect on everything that’s happened to him since he was acquired by the Sixers in a draft-night trade.

“If I had to look back, it was just a long journey,” he said. “Just a long journey.”

Smith suffered a Jones fracture in his left foot in August, then endured serious medical complications stemming from an allergic reaction in September to sesame, per a team source (see story).

The 6-foot-4 Smith said that his weight dropped as low as 164 pounds.

He’s now weighing in at 206 pounds, he says, which is actually higher than the 199 he’s listed at in the Sixers’ media guide.

“I’ve been eating right and drinking my protein shakes,” the 20-year-old Smith said.

According to Smith, he’ll play the rest of the Blue Coats’ season. Delaware’s last regular-season game is on March 23. And after that? 

“Only time will tell,” Smith said. “I’m not sure yet. Taking it day by day.”

Head coach Brett Brown acknowledged that, at one point, Smith’s medical situation was “deeper than concerning.” 

As to whether Smith will join the Sixers once the Blue Coats’ season is over, Brown shared the rookie’s outlook. One rusty game from Smith — which Brown said he hasn’t had a chance to watch yet — won’t sway his opinion on whether he’ll bring Smith into the fold for the Sixers this year.

I hope so. It’s a judgement as this thing unfolds. We’re all going to figure out at what level is he playing at. To me, the exciting part is he’s playing basketball again. I believe he shared with you the weight he lost and the weight he put back on. It’s good to be 20. It really is a remarkable story. … We’ll watch how he plays down in Delaware and then be responsible with the decision on do we bring him up. 

The first of the Blue Coats’ final 11 regular-season contests is Monday at 7 p.m., against the Fort Wayne Mad Ants at 76ers Fieldhouse in Wilmington, Delaware.

Smith could wind up being an athletic perimeter defender for the Sixers in the playoffs, an unlikely spark off the bench. Or he could wait until next season to make his NBA debut. Either way, Smith and everyone who cares about him are just happy now with the fact that he’s back on the court. 

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Sixers

Sixers Talk: What's next after missing out on Kyle Korver; Tobias Harris in crunch time

1400x1400_promo_sixers_talk_fullscreen.jpg
NBCSP

Sixers Talk: What's next after missing out on Kyle Korver; Tobias Harris in crunch time

Kyle Korver decided to head to the Bucks, while FiveThirtyEight's statistial model thinks the Sixers have the best chance to win the NBA Finals in 2019-20. Danny Pommells and Noah Levick discuss on this episode of Sixers Talk.

With Korver off the board, which other remaining free agents make sense for the Sixers?

Tobias Harris will have more responsibility for the Sixers in the fourth quarter this season. Can he handle it?

Plus, an explanation of Christ Koumadje's Exhibit 10 deal and a breakdown of two-way player Marial Shayok.

That and more below on this edition of Sixers Talk.

Why it makes sense that Kyle Korver signed with Bucks over Sixers

Why it makes sense that Kyle Korver signed with Bucks over Sixers

Sixers fans hoping for a Kyle Korver reunion got disappointing news Saturday afternoon.

The veteran sharpshooter is reportedly signing a deal with the Milwaukee Bucks, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Korver’s decision was down to the Bucks and the Sixers. Ultimately, Korver chose the Bucks because of his relationship with head coach Mike Budenholzer. It makes sense. Korver enjoyed the best stretch of his career in four-plus seasons with the Atlanta Hawks, including his only All-Star appearance. The 2014-15 Hawks, which featured Sixers general manager Elton Brand and forward Mike Scott, won 60 games and got to the Eastern Conference Finals.

While the Sixers could’ve used Korver’s shooting to help space the floor, he’s 38 years old  — he’ll turn 39 in March — and would’ve occupied the team’s 14th roster spot. It’s a slight disappointment, but not a huge concern. With all things even between the Sixers and Bucks as far as both teams’ ability to contend, Korver chose to play for his former coach.

The veteran free agent pool is getting thinner, but there are a couple guys that might be able to help. Iman Shumpert is a veteran wing with championship experience. Shaun Livingston has even more of that experience from his time with the Warriors. Thabo Sefolosha is a 3-and-D type that is used to fitting into roles on winning teams.

The Sixers on Friday signed 7-foot-4 center Christ Koumadje to an Exhibit 10 deal, which we explained here. Koumadje is more likely getting a look for the Delaware Blue Coats than anything. The team has the minimum 13 players signed to guaranteed NBA deals. The maximum is 15.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Sixers