The Philadelphia 76ers kick off their expectation-laden season on Wednesday against the Boston Celtics, and it looks like they will do so without former first-round pick Zhaire Smith in uniform.
Smith is listed on the team’s inactive list for opening day, along with 2017 second round pick Jonah Bolden. Justin Carter of RotoBaller tweeted out the official rosters and pointed out the noteworthy status.
After a rookie season that included a broken foot and a severe allergic reaction that led to massive weight loss, Smith played only six games. He was expected to develop this season on the NBA roster, especially considering that the team exercised his third-year option for the 2020-2021 season.
“He’s expecting me to develop all around,” Smith said when asked of coach Brett Brown’s expectations. “Last year we tried to develop, but then obviously I had the setback. He feels like this is my rookie year, like this is [about] development.”
G-League an Option for Zhaire Smith
Rookie Matisse Thybulle has bullied his way into the rotation in a big way with his stellar play in the preseason, which may leave Smith on the outside looking in when it comes to minutes. The 16th overall pick in the 2018 draft was relegated mostly to garbage time during the Sixers preseason slate.
Brown didn’t go as far to say Smith was out of the rotation, but did note that the G League could be an option.
“I feel that that same opportunity exists for others as well,” Brown told reporters at practice. “You mention Zhaire and I’m not prepared to declare that yet, but if something were to continue where I just didn’t feel like he was getting NBA minutes if I’m his brother, his father, or his agent, then that’s what I would want.
“He missed all last year. The short answer is ‘yes’ for everybody as it relates to him, I understand.”
Sixers Waive Trio of Players Ahead of Tipoff
With the regular season quickly approaching, the Philadelphia 76ers made some moves to trim their roster down to 15.
Sixers general manager Elton Brand announced Saturday through a press release that the team waived Haywood Highsmith, Christ Koumadje and Isaiah Miles.
Koumadje, Miles and Highsmith signed Exhibit 10 contracts, so they have some incentive to sign with the Sixers G-League team, the Delaware Blue Coats. They would receive a bonus of up to $50,000 if they sign with the team’s G-League affiliate and stay there for at least 60 days.
Highsmith and Koumadje saw action in two preseason games for Philadelphia, while Miles played in one. The trio spent training camp with the 76ers.
A four-year player from Wheeling Jesuit University, Highsmith began his rookie season with the Blue Coats before signing a two-way contract with Philadelphia. In 46 G-League games — 42 of those starts — he averaged 12.2 points, 6.9 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.2 steals in 32.2 minutes per contest. He appeared in five NBA games for Philadelphia.
Koumadje spent the past four years at Florida State. While there, Koumadje increased his scoring and rebounding averages each season as the Seminoles made three consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances from 2017-19.
Miles, who’s played professionally in France and Turkey, represented Orlando at Summer League this season. He previously spent four years at Saint Joseph’s in Philadelphia, where he was the Hawks’ leading scorer and rebounder as a senior, notching 18.1 points and 8.1 boards per contest.