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Report: Sixers trade Zhaire Smith to Pistons for Tony Bradley

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Denver Nuggets v Utah Jazz - Game Six Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

The Philadelphia 76ers are trading Zhaire Smith to the Detroit Pistons in exchange for Tony Bradley, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

On November 18th, Woj reported that Bradley had been traded to the Pistons, along with the 38th overall pick, from the Utah Jazz. The Jazz received cash and future considerations. (Basically, a salary dump for the Jazz.) Now, the Pistons are sending Bradley to Philadelphia four days later and getting Zhaire Smith in return.

Bradley, a 6’10” center, was drafted 28th overall in the 2017 NBA Draft by the Utah Jazz. Through his first two seasons, Bradley spent time in the G-League, seeing action in just 12 NBA games from 2017-2019. However, Bradley played more of a role for the pro squad during the 2019-20 season, averaging 4.9 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 0.8 Stl+blk’s in 11.4 minutes per game (per 36: 15.5 pts, 14.5 reb, 2.6 stls+blks).

The Sixers are moving on from the 21-year-old Zhaire Smith two years after he was traded to Philly on Draft night. Smith’s Sixers tenure had been quite the difficult first two years in the NBA. Before his rookie season (2018-19), Smith suffered a Jones fracture. While recovering, he had a severe allergic reaction that hospitalized him, further delaying his debut. With very limited playing time over the 2019-20 season, Smith never got back on track. Now he’ll get a fresh start elsewhere. Detroit is rebuild mode, which could allow Smith the developmental minutes he needs.

This surprised me, but maybe it shouldn’t have. Neither Doc Rivers nor Daryl Morey have a connection to Zhaire, with Rivers entering his first season coaching the team and Morey having not been a part of the front office that drafted Zhaire. Since he’s played very little, it’s hard to say whether he still has potential to be what he was projected on draft day. Morey and Rivers may not see it.

Bradley on the other hand has more NBA experience under his belt. He gives the Sixers extra depth behind Joel Embiid and the recently-signed Dwight Howard, which could signal that the Sixers intend to give Embiid his fair share of ‘load management’. And not for nothin’, Bradley’s still young himself — he’ll be 23 years old in January.

If I knew the Sixers were going to make a move for another big, I would have guessed they did so for a stretch four or five. It’s possible Bradley could be a part of a deal to come later. Maybe there’s going to be more dominoes to fall and the picture will become a bit more clear. But for now, I suppose it makes some sense if the Sixers feel Zhaire had no on-court value and Bradley can contribute minutes in case of a short rotation.