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76ers fans REALLY didn’t want Zhaire Smith

Zhaire is going to have to prove his critics wrong from the very beginning.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-East Regional-Villanova vs Texas Tech Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

“With the 16th pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, the Phoenix Suns select Zhaire Smith from Texas Tech University,” and just like that, an opportunity given and a dream realized. Smith’s time in Phoenix was very short lived however as immediately after this pick was announced, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN broke the news that Smith was getting traded to the Philadelphia 76ers.

For the 76ers, this is a steal. They get a guy they thought about getting with the 10th pick while also adding a 2021 unprotected first round pick. That draft pick is a great trade piece and could be extremely valuable three years from now. Not to mention, Philly’s front office loved Zhaire Smith. They brought him in for multiple workouts and there seemed to be mutual respect and intrigue between the two sides.

So why the disdain from the fanbase? Much of that likely has to do with who was traded away.

Mikal Bridges being drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers was such a heartwarming story. He was going to be able to live out his dream and play for the 76ers. Play in front of the same fans that had cheered him on in high school and at Villanova and work for the same organization his mother works. It truly was a dream come true for Bridges when he heard his name called to be a member of the 76ers, only to have those dreams dashed moments later. This truly was the ultimate, “Welcome to the NBA,” moment for the young 21 year old.

Those same fans who watched Bridges play in high school and in college, were hoping to watch him play in the NBA and took to twitter to voice their frustrations when he was traded.

However through looking at all these tweets (many of them R-rated) I came to find a diamond in the rough.

This take is 100% spot on. There was already a connection with these fans and Bridges. If the Dallas Mavericks would have drafted Zhaire Smith and traded him for Mikal Bridges, Mavs fans would have felt the exact same way. This is an unfortunate career start for both men as they will now forever be linked by a decision that they had nothing to do with.

At the same time, this is a good reminder that the NBA is a business. This trade was also a way for the 76ers to gain more assets to make a splash trade. Philadelphia is in a position to compete for championships and want the pieces available to get star players.

If you can get 1b and a good draft pick for 1a, you do it to make your team better. If that draft pick gets traded for Kawhi Leonard, these fans will no longer gripe about Bridges and instead praise the trade. Until that happens, Zhaire Smith will have to prove to all of Philadelphia that the organization made the right move.