Zhaire Smith Won't Join Philadelphia 76ers in Orlando for NBA's Restart

Justin Grasso

Philadelphia 76ers second-year guard Zhaire Smith will not join his teammates in Orlando next month for the NBA's restart as he has suffered a bone bruise on his knee, a team source confirms. "Smith began experiencing pain prior to the Sixers resuming workouts last week," Derek Bodner of The Athletic reported. "He started treatment immediately, [and] is expected to make a full recovery."

The second-year wing out of Texas Tech has spent most of his time down in Delaware with the Sixers' G League affiliate, the Blue Coats, to develop his game further this year. Last season, Smith's rookie debut didn't come until late in the season.

Before the 2018-2019 season tipped off, the Sixers guard suffered a foot injury, which was expected to sideline him until the 2019-2020 season. After recovering from his foot injury early, and getting over an adverse allergic reaction, Smith surprisingly made his G League debut midway through last season.

Eventually, the rookie appeared in six games for the 76ers last season. He averaged 6.7 points-per-game with an average of 18 minutes-per-game. The rookie remained healthy throughout the remainder of the regular season, but the team left him inactive for the entire playoff stint due to his inexperience.

Year two wasn't much more eventful for Smith. As he spent a lot of time in Delaware developing his game, Smith had the opportunity to play in just seven games for the Sixers this year. He averaged four minutes on the floor, putting up 1.1 points-per-game. While Smith impressed the organization with his progress in Delaware, they didn't find a need to call him up much throughout the year.

Therefore, his lack of presence in Orlando next month and beyond won't make too much of a difference for the Sixers. Now, Smith can focus on rehabbing his knee and getting better for his third season in the NBA.

Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him on Twitter: @JGrasso_

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