It may not be the debut he was looking for, but it appears Zhaire Smith will play professional basketball in 2019.
The 16th overall pick in the 2018 NBA draft will make his debut with the Sixers’ G-League affiliate, the Delaware Blue Coats, on Friday if everything goes according to plan, a team source confirmed Tuesday to NBC Sports Philadelphia.
The Philadelphia Inquirer's Keith Pompey first reported the story.
Smith was originally drafted by the Suns out of Texas Tech, but was traded to the Sixers in a draft-night trade. After participating in the Las Vegas summer league, Smith suffered a Jones fracture in his left foot while working out in August.
After successful surgery, Smith had to undergo a thoracoscopy because of issues related to a food allergy. The procedure caused Smith to lose weight and his physical condition deteriorated.
Smith has been working out with the Blue Coats and has also spent time with the Sixers recently. Brett Brown has noticed that Smith is still equipped with his crazy athleticism, one of the biggest reasons — along with his on-the-ball defense — he was a first-round pick.
"It’s great to see him sort of run around,” Brown said last week. “There is a bounce. There really is a bounce. He looks good physically. When that translates into him playing G-League-type stuff, I still don’t have any comment on that. But it’s great to see him run around.”
With just 21 games remaining on the schedule, it’s not likely that Smith will be able to help the Sixers this season. Still, it’ll be good to see Smith back on the floor with his medical issues behind him.
And it’ll give the Sixers a glimpse of what they can expect next season.
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.