76ers

Sixers trade Mikal Bridges to Suns for Zhaire Smith, 2021 1st-round pick

Sixers trade Mikal Bridges to Suns for Zhaire Smith, 2021 1st-round pick

Updated: Friday, 1:30 a.m.

So much for being the City of Brotherly Love.

The Sixers drafted Villanova product Mikal Bridges with the No. 10 overall pick in the 2018 NBA draft Thursday (see story). However, a short time later they sent Bridges to Phoenix for No. 16 pick Zhaire Smith and a 2021 unprotected first-round selection from Miami.

The deal was first reported by Yahoo! Sports' Shams Charania.

“About one minute when Phoenix was picking they said I was going to be traded, so when I walked across that stage Philly was on my mind,” Smith said on how he learned about the deal.

The high-flying Smith worked out twice for the Sixers during the pre-draft process.

Smith averaged 11.3 points, 5.0 rebounds and 1.8 assists a game as a freshman for Texas Tech in 2017-18. The 19-year-old was also extremely efficient as he shot 55.6 percent from the field and 45.0 percent from three-point range.

While Smith’s calling cards are athleticism and defense, he was also able to show the Sixers enough of his shooting and playmaking during those two workouts for them to make a move.

“The fact that he has a foundation that is incredibly unique in his relation to his athleticism,” Sixers head coach and interim general manager Brett Brown said. “The foundation that he has in his character, the foundation that he has in his defense, the incredible growth that we are seeing in his shot. His ability to create his own shot. There is no mystery of how we want to play here in Philadelphia, nor is there no mystery on the direction our sport is growing. 

“When you weigh it all out, and I anointed him ‘1B,’ it’s really an incredible situation that we had to navigate through once we got that offer.”

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Sixers hire two new assistant coaches in Ime Udoku, Joseph Blair

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USA Today Images

Sixers hire two new assistant coaches in Ime Udoku, Joseph Blair

Brett Brown lost two prominent pieces of his coaching staff in Monty Williams and Billy Lange.

It appears both those vacancies have been filled as the team announced Wednesday the hiring of Ime Udoka and Joseph Blair.

A team source confirmed a report earlier this month that the Sixers were bringing in Udoka. Udoka spent seven seasons on Gregg Popvich’s staff in San Antonio after spending over a decade as a professional player in the NBA and overseas. He’s been a head coaching candidate in the past, most recently interviewing for the Cavaliers job before the team hired Michigan coach John Beilein. 

Udoka and Brown were on the Spurs staff together before Brown took the Sixers job.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to reconnect with Brett in Philadelphia,” Udoka said in a statement. “He has done a great job building a respected program and I look forward to joining his staff. This is a wonderful opportunity and I embrace the challenge of taking the next step in my career. I am excited to get to work and help this extremely talented roster continue to achieve success at the highest level.”

Blair was the surprise hire. He’s fresh off leading the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, the G-League affiliate of the Rockets, to a title as the team’s head coach. The last coach to win a title with Rio Grande Valley? Raptors head coach Nick Nurse. Before that, Blair was an assistant with the Vipers after serving as an assistant for his alma mater, the University of Arizona. The 6-foot-10 Blair also has a history as a player, playing professionally overseas, and he had a couple stints as a Harlem Globetrotter. 

"I'm honored and excited to work alongside Brett, this staff, and team, as well as being a part of such a historic, respected, and energetic organization,” Blair said in a statement. “I look forward to learning, growing, and adding value, all while producing positive results for the city and the organization."

The team hired another former Spurs assistant in Cameron Hodges as part of their player development staff this offseason. They also promoted Lindsey Harding from scout to a player development coach toward the end of the season after Lange departed to take the head job at Saint Joseph’s. Williams took the head coaching job with the Suns, leaving the door open for Udoka to serve as Brown’s top assistant.

“I am excited and proud to welcome Ime and Joseph to our program,” Brown said in a statement. “The depth of basketball knowledge and experience that each brings to our bench will be integral in furthering the success we have enjoyed over the last two seasons.”

“Our players will continue to develop and improve under their direction and they will help me strive to guide our team toward our ultimate goal of winning a championship.”

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NBA free agency 2019 tracker: Rockets looking for first-round pick to tempt Sixers in sign-and-trade for Jimmy Butller

NBA free agency 2019 tracker: Rockets looking for first-round pick to tempt Sixers in sign-and-trade for Jimmy Butller

This is one of the biggest offseasons in franchise history for the Sixers. Keep track of all the latest NBA free agency rumors and rumblings right here.

4:59 p.m. — Marc Gasol staying in Toronto

3:14 p.m. — Rockets seeking a first-round pick for sign-and-trade for Jimmy Butler

But ...

11:49 a.m. — As expected, Kevin Durant is hitting the free agent market.

Tuesday, 3:49 p.m. — The Celtics are reportedly expected to make a strong push for Kemba Walker.

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.

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