It’s still a tough memory for Brett Brown.
The Sixers’ decision to trade 2018 No. 10 overall selection and Villanova product, Mikal Bridges, to the Phoenix Suns for Zhaire Smith and Miami’s unprotected first-round pick in 2021 pulls on the coach’s heart strings to this day.
“That was a painful night,” Brown said prior to Saturday’s game against the Orlando Magic. “Ultimately, when I’ve got to walk out of that room and tell the city of Philadelphia that we traded Mikal Bridges, that wasn’t a pleasant night.
“The things and the reasons that we did it to acquire and the the excitement that we had in Zhaire, those are good stories. But that fact doesn’t still sit well with me.”
Now that deal might hurt the Sixers even more down the road.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the NBA and NBPA are struggling to reach an agreement on lowering the league’s minimum age to 18, which would end the one-and-done draft era. While the major sticking points are reportedly turning over medical information to teams and participation in the pre-draft combine, it appears that Sixers-Suns swap has played a role in the negotiations.
“Phoenix traded the rights to Miami's unprotected 2021 first-round pick to Philadelphia in June, and the moving of that valued pick played some part in pushing back the proposed rule change to 2022, league sources said,” Wojnarowski said. “Those teams made decisions without the benefit of knowing the timetable on a change in the age limit. The first crop of high school seniors will be deeper in talent than those who come immediately before and after it.”
The Sixers were happy to nab Smith, who they deemed their “1B” player in the 2018 draft class, in the package. But the fact that the Miami selection was slated for 2021, when high school players were thought to be back in the draft mix, was also a significant factor.
“Then there’s a 2021 pick and we all understand that that could be the year that high school people are allowed into the NBA,” Brown said on draft night. “That is far out and it also could be the thing, as I said to Marshall (Harris), that could be the thing that flips it with us having more assets to enhance a realistic trade for a star.”
Any potential package in the future involving the 2021 first-round pick would certainly take a bit of a hit if high schoolers weren’t part of the available pool of players.
But with the calendar currently set to 2018 and the Magic inside the Wells Fargo Center for a matchup, Brett Brown the former Sixers interim general manager was only set on his duties as Brett Brown the head coach.
“I haven’t thought about it the way you’d want me to give you a good answer,” Brown said. “I hear the ripple effects.”