Zhaire Smith

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.

Zhaire Smith Suffers Bone Bruise, Will Miss Orlando Restart

Sixers wing Zhaire Smith has suffered a bone bruise in his left knee, per Derek Bodner of The Athletic (Twitter link). He will skip the NBA’s season restart, which kicks off on July 30 in Orlando. Bodner also notes that Smith should make a full recovery by the start of the 2020/21 NBA season.

According to Bodner (Twitter link), Smith began feeling pain in the knee ahead of the team’s restart training camp last week. The Sixers won’t be able to sign a substitute player, since injured players aren’t eligible to be replaced. After adding shooting guard Ryan Broekhoff, the team is currently carrying 17 players.

Smith, the No. 16 pick by the Sixers in the 2018 draft out of Texas Tech, has been hampered by lower-extremity injuries since entering the league. The 6’3″ shooting guard has played in just 13 of a possible 147 games.

Though Smith’s injury should not greatly affect the current Sixers roster’s depth in a season restart, the fact that he has suffered another season-ending malady after sporadic play in his sophomore campaign cannot be comforting to the Philadelphia front office.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 2/19/20

Here are Wednesday’s G League assignments and recalls from around the NBA:

Also on the transactions log:

Sixers Notes: Trade Targets, Horford, Thybulle, Smith

The Sixers are unhappy with the exclusion of rookie defensive standout Matisse Thybulle from the 2020 All-Star Game’s Rising Stars rookie-sophomore game, according to Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer.

“I feel like he’s… having a real impact on a winning team,” big man Al Horford said of the 6’5″ wing from the University of Washington. “I’m disappointed about that.”

Sixers coach Brett Brown had similar sentiments: “Just look at the numbers. I think that he should have been in the game.”

Thybulle, the No. 20 pick in the 2019 NBA draft, ranks 13th in the league in steals at 1.56 a night, a category in which he also leads all rookies.

There’s more out of Philadelphia:

  • The Sixers are in search of an offensive reserve upgrade. Their bench production as of January 31 was 29.0 PPG and 5.7 APG, third-worst in the league. Three realistic targets that have been floated are Pistons guard Derrick Rose, former Sixer and current Timberwolves forward Robert Covington, and Wizards stretch four Davis Bertans. Unfortunately, the current asking price for these targets is a too-steep request of the impressive and cost-effective Thybulle and a future first-round pick, sources tell The Athletic’s Anthony Slater.
  • Horford continues to adjust to his awkward fit on his new team next to current All-Star center Joel Embiid, according to Tim Bontemps of ESPN. The 33-year-old former All-Star big man was signed to a four-year, $109MM contract ($97MM guaranteed) this summer thanks to his offensive versatility and defensive moxie. Horford, generally a center at his last stop with the Celtics, has been featured far more at power forward for the Sixers. 32% of his minutes have been played at the position this season, as opposed to just 9% during 2018/19 with Boston. He has also been relegated to a spot-up shooting role more frequently than in years prior.
  • With the trade deadline around the corner, little-used second-year Sixers shooting guard Zhaire Smith could be an intriguing trade target for other teams, David Murphy of The Philadelphia Inquirer writes. But would the Sixers be giving up on Smith too soon if they moved him in a trade for veteran help? The 2018 first-rounder has played just 10 games in his two seasons with Philadelphia.

Sixers Notes: Young, Embiid, Smith

Thaddeus Young may make sense as a trade target for the Sixers, as I wrote for Heavy.com. Young, who is in the first year of a three-year contract with Chicago, would give coach Brett Brown another option to stagger the frontcourt minutes, which would ultimately allow Joel Embiid and Al Horford to remain fresh.

Here’s more from Philadelphia:

  • Joel Embiid will start vs. the Warriors after seeing a hand specialist during pregame, Derek Bodner of The Athletic reports (Twitter link). Embiid has missed the past nine games for the Sixers and the team went 6-3 in his absence.
  • Zhaire Smith is available to play for the Sixers tonight, per Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer (Twitter link). Smith injured his ankle on Saturday after playing just three minutes in his season debut.
  • Brett Brown said he can’t imagine Ben Simmons not making his second straight All-Star appearance, as Pompey relays on Twitter. Brown also mentioned Tobias Harris as a candidate.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 1/24/20

Here are Friday’s G League assignments and recalls from around the league:

  • The Sixers recalled Zhaire Smith from the Delaware Blue Coats, Derek Bodner of The Athletic tweets. Smith has appeared in six NBA games this season, averaging 6.7 PPG in 18.5 MPG. He provides depth at the shooting guard spot with Josh Richardson sidelined by a hamstring strain.
  • The Rockets assigned guard Chris Clemons to their Rio Grande Valley affiliate, Mark Berman of Fox 26 Houston tweets. The undrafted rookie has appeared in 25 games with Houston but only three this month.
  • The Jazz assigned forward Juwan Morgan to the Salt Lake City Stars, according the G League transactions log. The rookie forward has appeared in 10 games with the NBA club this season.
  • The Nets assigned guard Theo Pinson to their Long Island affiliate, according to the G League transactions log. He has appeared in 26 games with Brooklyn this season, averaging 4.5 PPG in 12.5 MPG.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 1/9/20

Here are Thursday’s G League assignments and recalls from around the NBA:

  • The Pacers assigned Victor Oladipo to the Fort Wayne Mad Ants for practice as part of his injury rehab, per the team (Twitter link). Oladipo is targeting a January 29 return to action.
  • The Magic assigned swingman Melvin Frazier to the G League, according to the team (Twitter link). Frazier has bounced back and forth between the NBA and NBAGL this season, with 11 appearances for Orlando and three for Lakeland.
  • After re-signing him to a 10-day contract today, the Cavaliers sent Tyler Cook to the Canton Charge, the team noted in a press release. We have more on Cook’s new deal right here.
  • The Clippers assigned rookies Mfiondu Kabengele and Terance Mann to the G League, the club announced today. The Agua Caliente Clippers of Ontario are in action on Thursday night and both Kabengele and Mann are in the starting lineup for L.A.’s affiliate.
  • According to the G League’s assignment log, the Sixers sent Zhaire Smith to the Delaware Blue Coats today, while the Jazz assigned Miye Oni to the Salt Lake City Stars.

Sixers Have Interest In Robert Covington, Other Players

The Sixers are parsing the trade market for reinforcements who can shoot the ball. According to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, Philadelphia has expressed interest in several role players, including Malik Beasley, Glenn Robinson III, Davis Bertans, E’Twaun Moore, and Andre Iguodala. O’Connor adds that the team has also inquired on Robert Covington, whom the team dealt away in the Jimmy Butler deal last season.

Most of those names, including Covington, are truly available. The price for Minnesota’s wing is expected to be high and with Philadelphia void of shiny assets, GM Elton Brand will have to get creative if he is going to bring back Sam Hinkie’s former gem.

Zhaire Smith is the young prospect the team is most willing to part with. Rivals teams have more interest in Matisse Thybulle, though Philadelphia is reluctant to deal the No. 20 overall pick. The franchise owns all of its own draft picks starting in the 2021 draft, so the Sixers could attempt to sweeten any deal with a future asset.

Other names on that list could be more obtainable than RoCo. It’ll be tough to pry Bertans from Washington, as the team can envision him as a long-term piece, but Iguodala, Moore, and Robinson are in obvious selling situations. Denver won’t be a seller at the trade deadline, but with a deep rotation and Beasley’s impending restricted free agency, the franchise is smartly assessing the market for the shooting guard.

Here’s more on Philadelphia.

  • O’Connor contends that the Sixers should consider making a bigger move for Chris Paul, swapping either Tobias Harris or Al Horford and additional salary for the 34-year-old point guard. However, the scribe hears that Harris and Horford, each of whom signed long-term deals this offseason, aren’t any more tradeable than CP3.
  • Trading Simmons doesn’t appear likely, in part because it would mean “putting all your superstar eggs in the Embiid basket,” and the big man has had a shaky injury history. O’ Connor wonders if Simmons would be the one the team decides to build around if forced to choose between the two.
  • Big changes will likely come with an early exit in the playoffs, though many around the game believe it would be Brett Brown who takes the fall in that scenario. There were rumblings that former team president Bryan Colangelo was planning to fire Brown and replace him with Villanova coach Jay Wright, but that was before Twittergate. Still, O’Connor hears from multiple sources that Brown didn’t have the best relationship with the locker room last season.

NBA Trade Candidate Watch: Atlantic Division

Over the course of the 2019/20 NBA season, up until February’s trade deadline, we’re keeping an eye on potential trade candidates from around the NBA, monitoring their value and exploring the likelihood that they’ll be moved. Each of these looks at possible trade candidates focuses on a specific division, as we zero in on three players from that division.

The Cavaliers and Jazz broke the NBA’s trade drought today, completing the league’s first trade since July 16. While I wouldn’t necessarily expect the floodgates to open on the trade market as a result of that deal, it certainly won’t be the last one completed this winter.

As we wait for an Atlantic team to make its first in-season trade of the 2019/20 season, let’s identify three more trade candidates from around the division…

Marcus Morris, F
New York Knicks
$15MM cap hit; UFA in 2020

Virtually every veteran on the Knicks’ roster is a trade candidate this season, as we noted in our last look at the Atlantic. However, Morris projects to be the most valuable of a group that also features Julius Randle, Bobby Portis, Wayne Ellington, and others.

Morris is the only player of that bunch who has no guaranteed money on his contract beyond this season, and he’s also been the most productive one so far, with a team-best 18.4 PPG to go along with an impressive .466 3PT%. Multiple reports have suggested that the Knicks could realistically expect to land a first-round pick in return for Morris.

The veteran forward has said he doesn’t want to be traded, since he likes playing in New York and would prefer to try to help the Knicks reverse their first-half skid. But he has no ability to veto a trade or steer himself to a specific destination, so it will likely come down to whether the Knicks get an offer they like.

Zhaire Smith, SG
Philadelphia 76ers
$3.1MM cap hit; $3.2MM guaranteed salary in 2020/21; $4.9MM team option for 2021/22

John Hollinger of The Athletic identified Smith this week as a recent first-round pick he’s worried about, since the 20-year-old “has struggled to make an impact even in G League games due to his limited skill level.” That’s not good news for a Sixers team that could badly use a wing like Smith off the bench.

Given how young he is, Smith could appeal to a rebuilding club that likes his athleticism and thinks it could get more out of him. Of course, the 76ers would be selling low, which the front office may be reluctant to do again after seeing Markelle Fultz contribute in Orlando this season.

Still, the Sixers don’t have a ton of expendable pieces earning more than the minimum, so even if they’re not ready to give up on Smith, he might make sense as a salary-matching piece in a trade package to acquire a more reliable contributor. Attaching Smith to Jonah Bolden, for instance, would allow Philadelphia to bring back a player earning up to about $8.4MM.

Stanley Johnson, F
Toronto Raptors
$3.6MM cap hit; $3.8MM player option for 2020/21

Like Smith, Johnson looks like he could serve a potential trade chip for a contending team that lacks expendable mid-level players. Of the four outside free agents the Raptors brought in this past summer, Johnson is being paid the most and has played the least, due to both injuries and ineffectiveness.

There’s still time for the former lottery pick to emerge as a regular contributor in Nick Nurse‘s rotation — Rondae Hollis-Jefferson worked his way out of the doghouse earlier in the season and is now seeing big minutes off the bench for the club. It’s possible Johnson will follow suit.

Even if Johnson remains glued to the bench, it remains unclear what sort of approach the Raptors will take at the trade deadline But if the club is looking for a modestly-priced bench upgrade, Johnson would be the most logical outgoing piece and could be the on the move.

Revisit the rest of our 2019/20 Trade Candidate series right here.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 12/2/19

Here are Monday’s G League assignments and recalls from around the NBA:

  • A day after he recorded 13 points and four steals in a Delaware Blue Coats victory, second-year guard Shake Milton was recalled to the NBA today by the Sixers, per Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer (Twitter link). Former first-rounder Zhaire Smith, meanwhile, was re-assigned to the G League.
  • The Raptors assigned Dewan Hernandez and transferred both of their two-way players to the G League, tweets Vivek Jacob of Yahoo Sports Canada. As Jacob notes, that may be a good sign for Toronto’s injury situation, with Serge Ibaka back and Kyle Lowry and Matt Thomas potentially close to returning.