76ers

Sixers trade Jerami Grant to Thunder for Ersan Ilyasova

Sixers trade Jerami Grant to Thunder for Ersan Ilyasova

Jerami Grant is headed to Oklahoma City.

The Sixers on Tuesday traded Grant to the Thunder for forward Ersan Ilyasova and a conditional future pick.

Yahoo's Adrian Wojnarowski first reported the trade.

The Sixers intend to keep Ilyasova, according to a source.

As for the conditional pick, Sixers GM Bryan Colangelo broke down the details shortly before Tuesday's game against Orlando. He said it likely will be a 2020 first-round pick that is protected from 1-20. 

"It’s a one-time shot," Colangelo said. "If it’s within the top 20 it will stay with Oklahoma City. Anything 21 through 30 will go to us. In addition to that, if it’s not conveyed, we will get ultimately two second round picks and those seconds would fall in 22 and 23."

However, because the timing of this draft pick is contingent upon another pick that Oklahoma City owes to Utah, it's possible the first pick under consideration won't come in 2020 and instead will be in either 2021 or '22.

“This is a unique deal that allows us to address both short term needs and longer term goals at the same time," Colangelo said earlier Tuesday in a statement. "Ersan will bring us much needed perimeter shooting, floor spacing and roster balance, while the acquisition of a future pick or picks should continue to drive our ability to generate future roster building options.”

Colangelo said the Thunder had pursued Grant "for some time."

“They’ve expressed an interest in Jerami Grant over the course of time," he said (see story). "The offers continued to get richer and richer. This led to the right timing from our perspective when the offer became realistic for us to make a move with Jerami, who we viewed as a nice young piece here.

“He endured a lot — a lot of painful losses along the way. But good, developing young player that I think has a bright future in the NBA. We’re thankful for everything he’s done. When you talk about class and professionalism, Jerami Grant is all of that. He’s terrific.”

Ilyasova is a 6-foot-10 power forward who's averaged 10.6 points and 6.0 rebounds in eight NBA seasons. He's a 44 percent career shooter, 37 percent from three.

Ilyasova gives the Sixers another frontcourt presence as they deal with the continued restrictions of Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor. Nerlens Noel and Ben Simmons are both sidelined by injuries. Ilyasova will help spread the floor with the ability to play at the basket and shoot from long range.

The 29-year-old played seven years with the Bucks and split last season on the Pistons and Magic. Born in Turkey, Ilyasova also has overseas experience.

Ilyasova scored 10 points and five rebounds in 20 minutes against the Sixers on opening night.

Grant, 22, was drafted 39th overall by the Sixers in 2014. The defense-first forward averaged 8.2 points, 3.9 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.4 blocks in 144 games with the Sixers. 

This season, the Sixers planned to utilize Grant at small forward, but injuries created a need for him to play the four as well. Grant had said he would look forward to playing the three because he could have an edge with his size and athleticism.

Zhaire Smith practices with Sixers 6 months after surgery for Jones fracture

Zhaire Smith practices with Sixers 6 months after surgery for Jones fracture

There were a couple odd sights at Sixers’ practice Wednesday.

First, there was Jimmy Butler sporting Zhaire Smith’s practice jersey. Then there was Smith himself, present and accounted for, at the Sixers’ practice facility in Camden.

“Oh, s---. I forgot I had this mother f----- on,” Butler said when asked why he was wearing Smith’s jersey. “I just wanted to be the better Zhaire today. I felt like I gave him the business today in practice.”

Smith surely would’ve given anything to have an NBA All-Star give him "the business" a few months ago.

It’s been a weird journey in his first pro season. Though this organization’s definition of weird — especially with injuries to first-round picks — differs greatly from other teams, Smith went through a lot.

After being drafted 16th overall by the Suns out of Texas Tech, Smith was part of a swap that sent Philly native and Villanova product Mikal Bridges — whose mom works for the Sixers — to Phoenix and brought Smith to Philadelphia. After a fairly uneventful but productive summer league stint, Smith went to work preparing for Sixers training camp.

Unfortunately, Smith then suffered a Jones fracture in his left foot on Aug. 6 during a development camp in Las Vegas and had successful surgery on Aug. 10 in New York City.

Smith then underwent a successful thoracoscopy on Sept. 27 to address an issue from an allergic reaction to a food product. Because of all this, Smith’s physical condition deteriorated. He lost weight and needed to regain his strength and conditioning.

But give Smith credit. He’s been working out with the Sixers’ G-League affiliate in Delaware, trying to get back on the court. Make no mistake, Wednesday’s practice was a big step.

“He’s handling it well,” Butler said. “Every time I see him he’s in here working on his game as much as he can, in the weight room trying to get stronger or doing the rehab he’s supposed to be doing.”

Lost in all of the craziness is that Smith seems like a legitimate prospect that could’ve helped the Sixers this season. His athleticism and ability to play tough defense on the ball would’ve been welcomed additions to the Sixers’ bench — especially prior to the trade deadline.

Alas, Smith didn’t get the opportunity to shine, and with just 24 games left in the regular season, it’s hard to imagine he’ll be able to play in an NBA game this season.

But still, he’s just 19 years old and could become a player for the Sixers yet. 

“It was great to see him,” Brett Brown said. “You’re reminded how of how athletic he is. He had a bounce today. It was just good to have him included with his teammates.”

Enough bounce to play a game this season?

“I don’t know," Brown said. "It wasn’t my expectation and still really isn’t, but I think to see him move around with his teammates, from a human standpoint, was pretty cool.”

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Joel Embiid's injury a blow, but lofty goals remain when he returns

Joel Embiid's injury a blow, but lofty goals remain when he returns

The news of a Joel Embiid injury is not what Sixers fans wanted coming out of the All-Star break.

While the All-Star center’s left knee soreness may seem alarming, his head coach downplayed it at the team’s practice facility Wednesday, referring to it as tendinitis (see story).

Brett Brown mentioned that Embiid had been dealing with a knee issue “for a few weeks” and that his playing in the All-Star game did not affect the injury.

“It’s a natural dot connector and it shouldn’t be to think that had anything to do with it,” Brown said at the team’s practice facility. “The bottom line is nobody needs to read into anything here. This is an NBA athlete that has some soreness in a knee, he’s had an MRI and we all should move on. 

“We’ll miss him obviously, playing wise, but it’s not anything that isn’t completely pointed toward keeping him ready and especially ready when it matters most at the end of the year.”

But with Embiid being out for at least a week, Brown and company have to move on without him.

What that initially means is more minutes for fan favorite Boban Marjanovic. Marjanovic certainly brings something to the table with his massive frame, efficient play around the basket and his abilities to screen and roll. Defense will be the issue when he’s asked to cover more fleet-footed fives.

That’s where rookie Jonah Bolden could come in. Bolden lost the backup center role through no fault of his own. He’d been playing well, providing rim protection with quick feet on defense and also hitting the occasional three. 

“You’d think Jonah’s got a chance to reclaim some of his court time that he had prior to the trade,” Brown said. “That is in my mindset, I had him on my second team today. It’ll be good to see him again.”

Other than missing a MVP-caliber player, the biggest disappointment is that the Sixers won’t get to further develop the chemistry of their new starting five. With the playoffs looming, getting that unit to play at its peak is more important than wins and losses.

There are loftier goals that lie ahead of the next last 24 regular season games.

“I’ve been on different teams where the goal is to get into the playoffs,” Tobias Harris said. “Here the goal is to win in the playoffs and to win big. I think we’d be doing ourselves a disservice if we just said, 'Let’s get out of the first round.' We’re trying to go for a championship here.”

It’ll be up to Harris and the other starters to carry more of that scoring load in Embiid’s absence. The player that may bear more of that burden is Jimmy Butler.

Butler can score on all three levels and create his own shot better than any player on the Sixers with Embiid out. Butler put up back-to-back 38-point performances back in early December. One of those games was with Embiid struggling mightily in Toronto and the other was with Embiid sidelined in Detroit.

While he won’t alter his approach with Embiid out, he knows what’s at stake in general.

“I’m going about it the same way,” Butler said. “It’s time to pick it up a little bit. This is the final stretch. I’m ready, man. My mind, my body. I’m relaxed, calm and collected, ready to win some games.”

Once Embiid's body is ready, the Sixers will look to take another step toward their championship goals.

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