The Process seemingly ended when the NBA forced the Philadelphia 76ers to fire former general manager Sam Hinkie. He was replaced by Jerry Colangelo and things started getting weird from that point on. One of the biggest complaints in the post-Hinkie era has been the decision to trade Mikal Bridges in 2018.
The Sixers took Bridges with the 10th overall pick that year in what looked like a perfect move. He was a local kid who starred at Villanova University, plus his mom (Tyneeha Rivers) worked for the Sixers’ organization. Minutes after Bridges’ name was read on draft night, it was announced that the rangy forward had been traded to the Phoenix Suns. Bummer.
Philadelphia received the 16th pick in the 2018 draft and a 2021 first-rounder from the Miami Heat in return for Bridges. They flipped that into Zhaire Smith, with the future pick heading to the Los Angeles Clippers in the Tobias Harris trade.
Smith is no longer on the Sixers’ roster. And it could be argued the Sixers don’t get Harris without trading Bridges away. The debate over whether they messed the 2018 draft up is a fun one and social media was quick to jump on the bandwagon on Tuesday night.
Bridges has been a solid piece for the Suns during their run to the NBA Finals, including a gutty performance in Game 1 where he locked down Khris Middleton on defense while scoring 14 points in 30 minutes for a +14 number. He’s been the true definition of a “3-and-D” player. The Ringer‘s Kevin O’Connor started the hijinks and Sixers’ Reddit wasted no time in fueling the fire by starting a thread saying: “The entire front office should be thrown in prison for this trade.”
The latest Sixers news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Sixers newsletter here!
Bridges: ‘Everything Happens for a Reason’
Bridges going to play for his hometown Sixers would have been the ideal Hollywood ending, right? But this is real life and things happen beyond anyone’s control. Fast forward three years and the Malvern native is competing for a championship alongside future Hall of Famer Chris Paul. Bridges has no complaints right now.
“You know, everything happens for a reason,” Bridges told reporters on June 25, via ClutchPoints’ Tomar Azarly. “You just want to know at that point what’s happening and what they were looking for for the future, and three years later down the line … I’m at this position right now, so you know I’m just blessed and happy. I’m here and got to be in the position I’m in right now and just trying to keep winning.”
Bridges’ mom is happy, too. Remember, she served as vice-president of human resources for Harris Blitzer Sports and Entertainment, a company that handles the hiring for the Sixers.
“She’s happy, too,” Bridges said. “She’s here and cheering me on, so she’s for sure happy.”
Smith Playing for NBA G-League Team
Smith went 16th overall to the Sixers in 2018 and saw his professional career derailed by injuries (fractured foot) and a rare allergic reaction to sesame. The 22-year-old saw action in just 13 total games for the Sixers while toiling down in the NBA G-League. Philly sent him to the Detroit Pistons in 2020 in exchange for Tony Bradley. Smith has been waived twice since the trade and now he suits up for the Memphis Hustle, the G-League affiliate for the Memphis Grizzlies.