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Report: Sixers expect Zhaire Smith back around Christmas

By Brandon Apter, Sports Talk Philly Staff 

The Philadelphia 76ers kick-off training camp in a few days, but they'll be without first-round pick Zhaire Smith. Smith suffered a Jones fracture in his left foot at an offseason camp and had surgery to repair it on August 9. Although it took Ben Simmons an entire season to return from this injury, the Sixers are looking for Zhaire Smith to come back before the turn of the calendar year.

According to Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Sixers expect Smith to return around Christmas time. The Sixers acquired Smith and a 2021 first-round pick from the Suns on draft night in a trade that didn't sit well with a lot of fans. Philadelphia sent Villanova's Mikal Bridges to Phoenix. While Bridges may have provided a more NBA-ready package, the Sixers were high on Smith's athletisism and most scouts have him at a higher ceiling than Bridges as well. In addition, the 2021 first-round pick is Miami's and it is unprotected in a draft that could include high school players for the first time since 2006. 

Zhaire Smith, 19, averaged 11.3 points, 5.0 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.1 steals and 1.1 blocks in his only season at Texas Tech. He joins the handful of Sixers first-rounders to miss at least a portion of their season dating back to 2013-14. Pompey notes in his article that even if Smith was healthy, the plan was for him to spend a good bit of time with the Sixers' G-League team in Wilmington, Delaware.

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