Zhaire Smith

Cavaliers Sign Zhaire Smith To 10-Day Contract

The Cavaliers have signed swingman Zhaire Smith to a 10-day contract, the team announced today in a press release.

The 16th overall pick in the 2018 draft, Smith has been playing this season for the Cleveland Charge, the Cavs’ G League affiliate. In 32 regular season and Showcase Cup games with the Charge, the 24-year-old has averaged 12.8 points and 4.3 rebounds in 33.4 minutes per contest, posting a shooting line of .543/.404/.796.

This season has represented a major comeback effort for Smith, who battled health issues after going pro and was limited to 13 regular season appearances in two NBA seasons with the Sixers. He was traded during the 2020 offseason to the Pistons, who subsequently waived him. Prior to signing an Exhibit 10 contract with the Cavaliers during the 2023 offseason, the Texas Tech standout hadn’t been on an NBA roster since 2020.

In addition to battling foot and knee issues, Smith also dealt with a life-threatening allergic reaction earlier in his career, which he has said resulted in a month-and-a-half stay in a hospital and a 60-pound weight loss.

“Just not be able to play the game made me hungry and motivated because I missed it so much,” Smith told Sam Yip of HoopsHype this past fall. “But I promise you I’m not gonna take it for granted anymore. Anytime I step on that court, I’m going to go 110 percent.

The Cavaliers had only been carrying 13 players on standard contracts, so no corresponding move is necessary to make room for Smith, and Cleveland will still have one opening on its 15-man roster.

Smith’s “10-day” contract will actually run for 12 days, earning him a couple extra days of pay, since 10-day deals are required to cover at least three games. The Cavs only play twice more before the All-Star break — the third and final game of Smith’s contract will come on February 22 vs. Orlando.

Cavaliers Waive Seven Players

The Cavaliers have released seven players, including three who were just signed, according to the NBA.com transactions log.

Point guard Sharife Cooper, forward Pete Nance, guard Justin Powell and swingman Zhaire Smith all have Exhibit 10 contracts, so they’re likely headed to the Cleveland Charge, the organization’s G League affiliate. They can earn bonuses of up to $75K if they spend at least 60 days with the team.

Also placed on waivers were shooting guard Rob Edwards, small forward Aleem Ford and guard Devontae Shuler, who hadn’t been listed on the Cavs’ roster prior to today. They were likely all signed and waived with Exhibit 10 deals and will be eligible for the same $75K bonus.

Two of the players have brief NBA experience, as Edwards played two games for the Thunder and Ford appeared in five games with the Magic, both during the 2021/22 season.

The moves leave Cleveland with 12 fully guaranteed salaries and all three of its two-way slots filled. Veteran center Tristan Thompson and shooting guard Sam Merrill remain with the team on non-guaranteed deals.

Central Notes: Pacers, Strus, Z. Smith, Wiseman, Bagley, Pistons

The Pacers aren’t loaded with star power, but they have one of the NBA’s deepest rosters, according to Dustin Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star, who suggests that all 15 players on standard contracts could make a legitimate case for rotation minutes. Due to that depth, Indiana’s training camp figures to be a very competitive one.

“Nothing is going to be given to anybody,” swingman Jordan Nwora said. “This is going to be different from past years. Guys are going to have to really earn it this year. That’s part of the reason why myself and a lot of other guys have been in the gym a lot this summer. … Outside of (Tyrese Haliburton, Myles Turner and Buddy Hield), no one here is really proven. Everyone here has to earn it.”

As Dopirak writes, the front office and coaching staff has indicated that only two starting spots are locked in so far: Haliburton will man the point, while Turner plays the five. The other three starting lineup spots are up for grabs, as are some rotation roles, and head coach Rick Carlisle is looking forward to seeing his players battle to earn minutes.

“The term that I like is competitive integrity,” Carlisle said. “If you really want to be a championship teammate, you have to do all the hard things. You gotta be a tenacious competitor defensively. You have to fight like hell competing against a guy you’re directly competing for for minutes and then you have to encourage him if he’s playing ahead of you.”

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • Former Cavaliers forward Kevin Love, who played with Max Strus in Miami, helped Strus make the decision to sign with Cleveland as a free agent this offseason, as Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com (subscription required) details. “Kevin was one of the first people I called, and he couldn’t have been more positive about the city and the organization. He told me it was a no-brainer,” Strus said. “He was like, ‘Max, you’re everything they need. You’ll be a great fit. The guys are great, the organization’s great.’ Kevin talked very highly of it, and he hasn’t steered me wrong once.”
  • Speaking to Sam Yip of HoopsHype, former first-round pick Zhaire Smith, who is on an Exhibit 10 contract with the Cavaliers, said he’s not taking his comeback for granted after dealing with so many health issues early in his professional career.
  • Addressing the backup center spot in the Pistons‘ rotation, head coach Monty Williams told reporters today that James Wiseman and Marvin Bagley III are competing for that role. As Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press notes (via Twitter), it sounds like there may only be room in the rotation for one of the two big men.
  • In his latest mailbag at Pistons.com, Keith Langlois addresses several Pistons-related topics, explaining why he thinks Detroit will add a 15th player on a standard contract for the regular season and why he’s skeptical that Ausar Thompson will be an opening night starter.

Cavaliers Sign Zhaire Smith To Exhibit 10 Deal

11:58am: The signing is official, Hoops Rumors has learned. Cleveland now has a full 21-man offseason roster.

11:14am: The Cavaliers are set to add a former first-round pick to their 21-man roster, according to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype (Twitter link), who hears from agent Adie von Gontard that Cleveland has agreed to an Exhibit 10 deal with free agent wing Zhaire Smith.

The 16th overall pick in the 2018 draft, Smith battled health issues after going pro and was limited to 13 regular season appearances in two NBA seasons with the Sixers. He was traded during the 2020 offseason to the Pistons, who subsequently waived him. The former Texas Tech standout hasn’t been on an NBA roster since he signed an Exhibit 10 contract with the Grizzlies in December 2020.

Although Smith was on the roster for the Memphis Hustle – the Grizzlies’ G League affiliate – in 2020/21, he didn’t play at all that season and hasn’t suited up for any team since then, having continued to be plagued by injuries. According to Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman, the 24-year-old underwent separate cleanup procedures on both knees during the summer of 2022.

“Every year I was like, ‘Oh, I’m about to play, I’m about to play,’ then there was just a setback,” Smith said, per Mussatto. “I didn’t know what was going on with my knees, and that was the hardest part.”

Smith’s ongoing effort to make an NBA comeback saw him join the Thunder for Summer League action this July. He appeared in four total games in Salt Lake City and Las Vegas, averaging 6.0 points on 75.0% shooting in 14.0 minutes per game.

Exhibit 10 contracts can be converted to two-way deals, but the Cavaliers have filled all three of their two-way slots, so they likely envision having Smith suit up for their G League affiliate, the Cleveland Charge. If he’s waived before the NBA season begins and then spends at least 60 days with the Charge, Smith would be eligible to earn an Exhibit 10 bonus worth up to $75K.

Grizzlies Sign Shaq Buchanan, Waive Two Players

2:38pm: The Grizzlies have now officially signed Buchanan and cut Vital, according to a second press release from the team. Buchanan currently occupies the 20th spot on Memphis’ roster, while Vital and Smith are both on waivers.

1:48pm: The Grizzlies continue to shuffle players in and out of the spots at the back of their roster, announcing today in a press release that they’ve signed free agent guard Christian Vital, waiving guard Zhaire Smith to create room on the 20-man squad.

Vital, who spent his college career at UConn, averaging 16.4 PPG, 6.3 RPG, and 2.5 SPG in 31 games (32.2 MPG) as a senior in 2019/20. He went undrafted last month, and now looks like a strong candidate to end up with the Memphis Hustle, the Grizzlies’ G League affiliate. The same is true of Smith, who had just signed with the Grizzlies on Tuesday.

It’s not uncommon to see players being released a day or two after they’re signed at this time of year. Signing a player to an Exhibit 10 contract and then cutting him allows an NBA team to secure the player’s G League affiliate rights if they don’t already belong to another NBAGL club, or to line up a $50K bonus for returning-rights players.

It appears that 6’3″ guard Shaq Buchanan will be one of the Hustle’s returning-rights players. After spending his rookie season with Memphis’ G League team last season, averaging 11.1 PPG and 4.8 RPG in 33 games (22.4 MPG), Buchanan has signed an Exhibit 10 deal with the Grizzlies again this year, agent Josh Goodwin tells JD Shaw of Hoops Rumors (Twitter link).

After swapping out Smith for Vital, the Grizzlies have a full 20-man roster, so they’ll need to waive another player in order to officially announce the Buchanan signing. Ahmad Caver and Bennie Boatwright are the most obvious candidates to be cut, but we’ll await official word from the club.

Grizzlies Waive Marko Guduric, Sign Zhaire Smith

The Grizzlies have made a series of roster moves, announcing in a press release that they’ve signed guard Zhaire Smith and forward Bennie Boatwright while waiving guards Marko Guduric and Jahlil Tripp.

The release of Guduric had been expected, as we discussed earlier today. The 25-year-old Serbian appeared in 44 games with Memphis last season, averaging 3.9 PPG on .395/.301/.923 shooting in 11.0 minutes per contest. His $2.75MM salary for 2020/21 is fully guaranteed, so the Grizzlies won’t be able to remove it from their cap.

Tripp, meanwhile, had been on an Exhibit 10 contract and seems likely to eventually join the Memphis Hustle, the Grizzlies’ G League affiliate.

Since the Grizzlies still have 15 players on fully guaranteed contracts, neither of the newcomers will receive a guarantee or earn a spot on the team’s regular season roster. They both received Exhibit 10 contracts and will likely end up with the Hustle, tweets Chris Herrington of The Daily Memphian.

Smith, 21, was the 16th overall pick in the 2018 draft, but has only appeared in 13 games since then due primarily to health issues. The Sixers traded him last month to the Pistons, who subsequently released him.

As for Boatwright, the former USC star spent the 2019/20 season with the Grizzlies’ G League affiliate, but didn’t play due to a knee injury. In his last college season in 2018/19, he averaged 18.2 PPG on .474/.429/.702 shooting in 31 games (33.5 MPG) for the Trojans.

Pistons Waive Zhaire Smith

The Pistons have placed swingman Zhaire Smith on waivers, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets.

The transaction was expected, as Detroit’s plan to waive Smith was previously reported. The Pistons officially acquired Smith from the 76ers in exchange for center Tony Bradley a week ago.

Smith was due to make $3.2MM during the upcoming season but that was the only guarantee left on his rookie contract. His $4.915MM salary for the 2021/22 season includes a team option.

There’s a good chance Detroit will use the stretch provision on Smith’s contract. Only the guaranteed money would count, so if the Pistons stretch his contract for three years, the cap hit would be around $1MM per season.

Smith was drafted just outside the lottery with the No. 16 pick in the 2018 draft but his first two seasons were marred by injuries.  He’s appeared in just 13 NBA games.

Sixers, Pistons Swap Zhaire Smith, Tony Bradley

NOVEMBER 23: The Pistons and Sixers have officially sent out press releases announcing the deal, confirming they’ve swapped Bradley and Smith.

There have been reports that Detroit may end up waiving Smith, but for now he remains on the roster.

NOVEMBER 22: The Sixers and Pistons are completing a minor trade, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who reports (via Twitter) that third-year wing Zhaire Smith will head to Detroit in the deal, while fourth-year center Tony Bradley goes to Philadelphia.

Smith was the 16th overall pick in the 2018 draft but has barely seen the court during his first two professional seasons, having battled health issues and playing just 13 total NBA games. He did appear in 28 games for the Delaware Blue Coats in the G League last season, averaging 13.5 PPG and 3.1 RPG with a .530/.376/.714 shooting line.

As Omari Sankofa of The Detroit Free Press notes (via Twitter), the Pistons had been seeking more shooting on the wing and – since they’re in rebuilding mode –  can afford to be patient in developing him. Moving Bradley also helps the team slightly clear its logjam at center, where the team has added Mason Plumlee, Jahlil Okafor, and first-round pick Isaiah Stewart in the last few days.

In Philadelphia, meanwhile, new 76ers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey has apparently developed a newfound fondness for centers, having already signed Dwight Howard on Saturday to back up Joel Embiid. If Bradley remains with the 76ers, he’ll provide additional depth in the middle.

The 28th overall pick in the 2017 draft, Bradley spent his first three seasons in Utah before the Jazz agreed to trade him to Detroit earlier in the week. He earned regular minutes for the first time in 2019/20, averaging 4.9 PPG and 4.6 RPG in 58 games (11.4 MPG).

The financial impact of the trade will be minimal. Smith has a $3.2MM salary for 2020/21 and a $4.92MM team option for 2021/22, which Detroit must exercise or turn down by the end of next month. Bradley will earn $3.54MM this season before becoming eligible for restricted free agency next year.

Pistons Likely To Waive Zhaire Smith

The Pistons are reportedly trading for Sixers wing Zhaire Smith but it’s unlikely they’ll keep him. They plan to waive Smith and use the stretch provision on his contract, Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports tweets.

However, while they will likely do so, it’s not definite, according to The Athletic’s James Edwards III (Twitter link). The Pistons would like to either keep that roster spot open and/or they have something else in the works, Edwards adds.

Smith was due to make $3.2MM during the upcoming season but that was the only guarantee left on his rookie contract. His $4.915MM salary for the 2021/22 season includes a team option. If the Pistons stretch his contract for three years, the cap hit would be around $1MM per season.

Detroit’s new GM Troy Weaver has executed a flurry of moves in recent days to completely reshape the roster. In one of those moves, he acquired center Tony Bradley from the Jazz, a trade that became official on Sunday. He then reached an agreement with the Sixers to ship Bradley to Philadelphia for Smith.

As we noted earlier, Smith has barely seen the court during his first two professional seasons, mainly due to health issues. He’s appeared in just 13 total NBA games. The Pistons seemingly have no interest in reviving Smith’s career and were just seeking to clear a frontcourt logjam by trading Bradley.

Atlantic Notes: Brown, Smith, Temple, Kline

Celtics swingman Jaylen Brown wasn’t sure about playing in Orlando until he was sure that messages regarding social justice would be welcome, A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston writes. Brown also indicated other teammates felt the same way and they are embracing the platform.“The ability and the option to play for something bigger than yourself, a lot of guys would sign up for that 10 times out of 10,” Brown said.

We have more from around the Atlantic Division:

  • Zhaire Smith‘s latest injury is another example of how the Sixers’ decision to acquire him during the 2018 draft hasn’t panned out, according to Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Smith will sit out the remainder of the season with a bone bruise in his left knee. He has appeared in just 13 games during the first two seasons of his career and the club unsuccessfully tried to deal him in Feburary, Pompey adds.
  • The Nets’ Garrett Temple admits he feels a “nervous anxiousness” about the restart of the season, according to ESPN’s Malika Andrews. Temple’s fiancee is due to give birth in mid-September and he’ll leave the campus if the Nets are still playing at that time. “There is no way to be comfortable when you think about where you’re going to be, for the amount of time you’re going to be there and the restrictions that you have there,” Temple said. “The question of us being comfortable; that will not be the case whatsoever. We will have to adapt.”
  • It’s no surprise that Knicks 26-year-old scout Alex Kline is on the fast track to success, as Zach Braziller of the New York Post details. Kline started his own recruiting site when he was in high school and quickly gained respect. “Alex is wise beyond his years and someone I have always respected for both his hard-working mentality and talent evaluating skills,” new Knicks president Leon Rose told Braziller. ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla told The Athletic’s Mike Vorkunov that Kline will have a prominent front office job before long. “As a basketball guy, this kid is going to go places. … Is he going to turn into an NBA superstar GM? That remains to be seen, but he’s got all the tools,” Fraschilla said.