Zhaire Smith is set to earn another chance to prove he belongs in the NBA after the Cleveland Cavaliers signed him to a 10-day contract on Sunday.
The 24-year-old swingman appears grateful for the opportunity, sharing an image of the news on Instagram and reacting with an emoji.
The Texas Tech University product is a member of the 2018 draft class, with the Phoenix Suns selecting him with the No. 16 pick that year and immediately trading him to the Philadelphia 76ers in a deal that included Mikal Bridges.
He joined a 76ers team that featured Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Jimmy Butler, so he had the opportunity to prove his worth at the professional level without the added pressure of having to be a major contributor immediately.
Unfortunately, injury trouble and a serious food allergy incident caused Smith to miss a lot of time in his rookie year. He ended up making his debut much later in the 2018-19 campaign and appeared in just six regular-season games. He averaged 6.7 points, 2.2 rebounds and 1.7 assists per contest while getting 18.5 minutes per game.
Smith saw even fewer minutes in his sophomore season, seeing action just seven times during the 2019-20 campaign for 4.6 minutes per game.
After bouncing from team to team, he eventually joined the Cavs’ G League affiliate, the Cleveland Charge, in 2023.
A full-time starter for the Charge, Smith has appeared in 32 matches in the G League this season, putting up averages of 12.8 points and 4.4 rebounds per game. Perhaps the area where he can provide the most help for the Cavs is outside shooting, as he has connected on 40.4 percent of his shots from long distance in the G League this season.
The Cavs have been on a tear recently, winning nine consecutive contests and 17 of their last 18 to reach second place in the Eastern Conference. At certain points in the early stages of the season, they weren’t even in playoff or play-in territory in the East. But the resurgence has allowed the team to contend for one of the higher seeds, increasing its chances of opening the playoffs at home again like last year.
The team is likely looking to maintain its momentum heading into the All-Star break, with meetings against the Sixers and Chicago Bulls awaiting the Cavs in the coming days.