The surprising Sixers-Suns trade during the draft comes back to a deal made 3 years ago and shows the hilarious circular nature of the NBA

  • The Philadelphia 76ers and Phoenix Suns agreed to a trade on Thursday during the draft, with the 76ers sending 10th overall pick Mikal Bridges to the Suns for 16th overall pick Zhaire Smith and an unprotected 2021 first-round pick.
  • The exchanged draft picks go back to a trade the two teams made in 2015 during a chaotic trade deadline.
  • We’ll explain further below.

The Philadelphia 76ers-Phoenix Suns trade on Thursday during the NBA Draft has roots that go all the way back to 2015.

On Thursday, the 76ers traded Mikal Bridges, the 10th pick, to the Phoenix Suns for Zhaire Smith, the 16th pick, and a future 2021 first-round pick, via the Miami Heat.

As ESPN’s Zach Lowe broke down on his podcast, “The Lowe Post,”Thursday’s trade between the two teams, in some ways, was a result of a deal the two teams made during the chaotic 2015 trade deadline.

In February 2015, the Philadelphia 76ers traded guard Brandon Knight (who they had acquired from the Milwaukee Bucks in a trade that day) to the Phoenix Suns for a future Los Angeles Lakers draft pick, which the Suns received from the Lakers when Steve Nash joined the Lakers in the summer of 2012.

The Lakers pick was protected and had restrictions depending on where it fell in 2015, 2016, and 2017. Because of those protections, the Lakers kept their first-rounder until this year, when the pick finally transferred to the 76ers.

On that same day in 2015 that the 76ers traded for the Lakers pick, the Suns also traded point guard Goran Dragic to the Miami Heat for two future first-round picks – one protected pick and one unprotected pick in 2021.

The first first-round pick the Suns acquired from the Heat was protected in 2017 and did not transfer to the Suns until this year.

So, on Thursday during the 2018 draft, the 76ers used the Lakers pick (No. 10 overall) to draft Mikal Bridges. The Suns used the first Heat pick (16th overall) to draft Zhaire Smith. The two teams later agreed to the trade, swapping Bridges and Smith while the Suns sent the 2021 Heat pick to the 76ers.

As Lowe noted…

The Suns essentially traded Goran Dragic and two first-round picks (Smith and the 2021 Heat pick) for a Lakers pick they already had (to draft Bridges).

As Lowe said, it’s not great asset management by the Suns.

Meanwhile, tracing things back on the 76ers’ side…

They essentially traded Brandon Knight for Zhaire Smith and a 2021 unprotected pick.

All things in the NBA come full circle, and no move is made in a vacuum.

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