WEDNESDAY, 11:14am: The affiliate of the Sixers has claimed Smith’s D-League rights, so he’ll play for the Delaware 87ers, Reichert hears (Twitter link).
TUESDAY, 10:50am: Former Grizzlies and Pelicans point guard Russ Smith has signed with the D-League, a league source tells Chris Reichert of Upside & Motor (Twitter link). The 24-year-old has spent plenty of time on D-League assignment during his season and half in the pros, but this is the first time he has a D-League contract instead of an NBA deal, so the D-League waiver system will determine which affiliate he plays for. He’ll remain eligible to sign with any NBA team regardless.
Memphis waived Smith on December 29th, despite the existence of a full guarantee on his minimum salary, to clear room for Ryan Hollins, whom the Grizzlies released about a week later. Still, the team filled the roster spot with Elliot Williams on a 10-day contract instead of re-signing Smith. The Grizzlies reportedly believed as of early this season that Smith wasn’t ready to ascend to the role of primary backup behind Mike Conley, which helped precipitate the Mario Chalmers trade. Smith saw playing time in only 21 NBA games for Memphis in between the time it acquired him from the Pelicans in the Jeff Green trade a year ago today and the time of his release. He made it into only six games for New Orleans prior to that deal.
Still, he was a consensus First Team All-American in his senior season at Louisville in 2013/14, when he averaged 18.2 points, 4.6 assists and 2.8 turnovers in 29.3 minutes per game. The Sixers drafted him 47th overall in 2014 and dealt his rights to the Pelicans shortly thereafter.
Do you think we’ll see Smith back in the NBA this season? Leave a comment to share your thoughts.