Sixers trade away 2018 1st-rounder Smith, acquire young center


The Sixers on Sunday moved on from 2018 first-round pick Zhaire Smith.

The team is trading Smith to the Pistons in exchange for center Tony Bradley, a source confirmed to NBC Sports Philadelphia. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski first reported the news. 

Yahoo Sports' Vince Goodwill reported Sunday night that Detroit is expected to waive and stretch Smith.

On draft night in 2018, the Sixers traded 10th pick Mikal Bridges to the Suns in exchange for 16th pick Smith and a 2021 first-round selection. That 2021 first-rounder was later used in the trade for Tobias Harris. Smith’s professional career has thus far been characterized by unfortunate issues that have delayed his path to regular NBA minutes. He broke his left foot before playing a game for the Sixers, then endured a life-threatening allergic reaction and severe medical complications later in his rookie season.

"... As the night played out, the Zhaire situation unfolded, and we did like Zhaire," Brett Brown, who was serving as the Sixers' interim general manager for the 2018 draft, recalled in August. "Where Zhaire ends up — he’s still incredibly young. I think the only sort of satisfaction that you can get out of a very difficult night for me personally, for sure, is the fact that we were able to get Tobias.

"I’m always looking at the truth and the fact that we wouldn’t have gotten Tobias had that situation not unfolded. ... When I look across and see Phoenix play and I see Mikal playing the way he’s playing, it doesn’t surprise me. I’m just a fan of his. ... I just feel like he’s going to be what I thought was going to be — a two-way player and an NBA keeper, and a starting player, I think, for many years.”


Bridges, a Villanova product who believed he'd be joining his hometown team for about 20 minutes that evening, has averaged 8.7 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.5 steals for the Suns. 

The 21-year-old Smith, who did show signs of progress with his retooled jump shot this year in the G League, did not travel with the Sixers to Disney World after suffering a bone bruise in his left knee during the NBA's hiatus. Overall, he appeared in 13 games as a Sixer. 

Though Smith could eventually fulfill the promise that attracted the Sixers to him in the first place, it did not appear he had a clear route to NBA playing time this year on the Sixers. 

Bradley is a 22-year-old big man who averaged 4.9 points and 4.6 rebounds in 58 games on the Jazz last year. The UNC product had been dealt to the Pistons earlier in the week. At the moment, Bradley would likely be third in the Sixers’ center rotation behind Joel Embiid and Dwight Howard. 

Bradley is on an expiring contract with a $3.5 million salary this season, so it’s a deal that allows the Sixers to maintain flexibility moving forward. The Sixers picked Smith’s third-year option up last October and would’ve had a decision to make on his fourth-year option for $4.9 million.