Sixers Zhaire Smith has foot surgery, no timetable for return

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I don’t believe in curses, but if I did…

Philadelphia rookie Zhaire Smith had surgery on the Jones fracture Thursday night, and there is no timetable for his return. However, this is the injury that sidelined Joel Embiid for all of his rookie season.

 

A Jones fracture is to the bone that runs from the “little toe” up towards the ankle on the foot. The challenge with treating it is this is not an area of the body that receives a lot of blood flow, so injuries can be slow to heal.

Why mention a curse? Because Smith joins a long list of recent Philadelphia first-rounders who suffered a serious injury before their rookie years: Nerlens Noel, Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Markelle Fultz, and Landry Shamet. (Yes, the Sixers knew some of them were injured before the draft, still…)

Smith showed a lot of athleticism and some promise at Summer League, he needs to work on his handles and his shot to take advantage of his athletic gifts, but there is real potential there. A season off due to injury is not ideal, but it could be put to good use. While the Sixers are already elite, Smith is another project to watch.

Report: 76ers first-rounder Zhaire Smith suffers Jones fracture, undergoing surgery

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The 76ers announced rookie Zhaire Smith suffered a foot injury.

It doesn’t sound good.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

Smith joins a long list of recent Philadelphia first-rounders who suffered serious injury before their rookie years – Nerlens Noel, Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Markelle Fultz, Landry Shamet. Though the 76ers sometimes drafted hurt players, there’s also a lot of bad luck on that list.

It’s unclear how much time Smith will miss. He might return before the regular season. He might miss a huge chunk of the season.

But at minimum, Smith will miss several weeks of training. Wilson Chandler has become even more likely to claim the backup small-forward job behind Robert Covington.

76ers: Zhaire Smith injured foot

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The 76ers – intentionally and unintentionally – keep finding first-round picks injured before their rookie seasons.

Nerlens Noel, Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons… and now Zhaire Smith.

76ers:

This is obviously extremely vague, but the injury is significant enough Philadelphia announced it.

Smith had a chance to challenge veteran Wilson Chandler for minutes behind Robert Covington at small forward. But considering Smith’s youth and raw skill set, an immediate rotation role would have likely signaled Chandler’s decline.

Even if Smith is set back just during offseason training, this makes it even less likely he receives regular playing time to begin the season.

Report: Nerlens Noel signing 1+1 contract with Thunder

AP Photo/LM Otero
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LeBron James and Nerlens Noel reportedly discussed teaming up with the Lakers.

LeBron did his part.

But Noel is headed elsewhere.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post:

Giving Noel a player option next year rather than signing someone to the one-year minimum, based on their current roster, will cost the Thunder an extra $1,775,001 this season – $244,828 in salary and $1,530,173 in luxury tax. Noel will count at the five-years-experience minimum salary rather than the two-years-experience minimum salary for most players on one-year minimum contracts. Oklahoma City has until the final day of the regular season to lower its payroll and reduced its repeater-luxury-tax bill, though.

The Thunder City needed a backup center behind stalwart Steven Adams. Jerami Grantwho agreed to re-sign – is a creative option at times, but he’s not big enough for every matchup. Dakari Johnson is unproven at best.

Noel’s stock has hit rock bottom, but he’s just 24 and still has the agility and length to become a versatile defender. His offensive role should be narrow, but he works as a pick-and-roll and rebounding specialist. Perhaps, he takes to Oklahoma City’s culture and improves his work ethic and image.

Noel certainly wants to hit the market again next summer. The Thunder wanted his talent in their system – to the point they’re paying relatively big to allow him the flexibility to become a free agent next summer.

Report: LeBron James not going to meet with Cavaliers in person to start free agency

AP Photo
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LeBron James does not want to sit through elaborate pitch meetings for this free agency. More than that, he has let his agent Rich Paul and the rest of his team handle dealings with teams (although LeBron himself has reached out to players he wants to team up with — player-to-player is not tampering under the NBA’s rules).

That said, LeBron is expected to have some conversations — likely in person — not long after July 1 with whatever team he is going to sign with. The Lakers remain at the front of that line.

LeBron is not meeting in person with the Cavaliers to start free agency, reports Dave McMenamin of ESPN.

When NBA free agency officially opens up Sunday at 12:01 a.m. ET, the Cleveland Cavaliers will not meet in person with LeBron James or his representatives, sources told ESPN.

James’ camp and the Cavs front office has been in regular dialogue since the season ended, sources said, and James’ agent, Rich Paul of Klutch Sports, informed the Cavs on Friday morning that the four-time MVP would not be opting in to the final year of his contract with Cleveland worth $35.6 million.

Paul, who represents several other players entering into free agency — Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Nerlens Noel among them — will conduct all his business over the phone when free agency begins, sources told ESPN.

What does this mean? Nothing we didn’t already know, it’s just a confirmation.

Cleveland is LeBron’s fallback option. He’s trying to get to the Los Angeles Lakers, ideally with another star or two in tow (LeBron is not afraid to be first to sign, but he doesn’t want to be alone, according to sources). Philadelphia is not entirely out of the picture. If nothing else quite works, LeBron may return to Cleveland and he can meet with them then.

The first days of free agency are about his preferred choice and if that can be worked out.