Report: Cavs add former 1st-round pick trying to revive NBA career

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Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland Cavaliers have decided to add a 2018 first-round pick to their roster. The Cavaliers and guard Zhaire Smith have come to an agreement on an Exhibit 10 deal with the start of the 2023-24 NBA regular season less than two months away.

Smith was selected with the No. 16 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft after a one-season stint playing college basketball at Texas Tech University.

He was one of the best all-around guards in the nation during his one season as a Red Raider, the 2017-18 season, as he averaged 11.3 points, 5.0 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.1 steals and 1.1 blocks per game across 37 appearances (21 starts). The 6-foot-3 guard also scored the ball with great efficiency from the field, seeing as he converted 55.6 percent of his field-goal attempts.

Those numbers were good enough for Smith to earn a spot on the Big 12 All-Freshman Team as well as the conference’s All-Defensive Team.

Smith’s contributions on both ends of the floor translated into a lot of success for the Red Raiders. They finished the 2017-18 season with an impressive 27-10 record and made it all the way to the NCAA Tournament’s Elite Eight, where they lost to Villanova University by a final score of 71-59. Smith finished with seven points and seven rebounds in the loss.

The 24-year-old has played two seasons in the NBA, both as a member of the Philadelphia 76ers franchise. Most recently, Smith averaged 1.1 points, 0.3 rebounds and 0.3 assists per game in seven appearances with the Sixers during the 2019-20 regular season (zero starts).

The Sixers traded Smith to the Detroit Pistons in the 2020 offseason, and Detroit waived him shortly after. Smith hasn’t been part of an NBA roster since he inked an Exhibit 10 contract with the Memphis Grizzlies in December of 2020, and even though he was on the roster, he didn’t play a single game with the team or its G League affiliate, the Memphis Hustle.

Only time will tell if Smith will be able to see the court for the Cavaliers during the 2023-24 regular season. But if he does log playing time with the team, don’t expect him to play many non-garbage time minutes.

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Jesse is a sports journalist with extensive experience covering the NBA. He has worked as a staff writer at SB Nation’s CelticsBlog and The Knicks Wall.