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News » Sixers exercise options on three players

Sixers exercise options on three players

Sixers exercise options on three players First-year 76ers coach Eddie Jordan was asked the other day what he knew upon taking over the team in June about third-year pro Jason Smith, who sat out all of last season with a knee injury.

"I just knew he looked good in the team picture," quipped Jordan, who spent five-plus seasons guiding the Washington Wizards before being fired 11 games into last season.

Then, turning serious, Jordan remembered having to warn his Wizards about the 7-0 Smith during a game against the Sixers in 2007-08.

"I said, 'Jeez, guys, this guy is big, he's athletic, he's hustling, he can make a shot, and we have to keep his activity away from the paint,' " Jordan said. "I said. 'We have to pay attention to this kid.' "

Now, recovered from a knee injury and figuring in Jordan's plans as a key backup at power forward and center, Smith was one of three young Sixers who had their contract options exercised by the team yesterday.

Smith and forward Thaddeus Young were extended a fourth year while forward Marreese Speights got a third year. The Sixers made the announcement after the team practiced at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.

"Thaddeus, Jason and Marreese are three of our young players who have done everything asked of them and continue to show improvement every time they step on the court," Sixers president and general manager Ed Stefanski said in a statement. "We are excited about the way they have developed to this point, and we are looking forward to them continuing their careers with the Sixers ."

At this time last year, Smith's future was clouded by the torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee that he suffered during an off-season workout session in Las Vegas.

After being picked by the Miami Heat with the 20th overall pick in the 2007 NBA draft, Smith was acquired by the Sixers in a trade the same night. He showed promise as a rookie, appearing in 76 games and finishing with averages of 4.5 points and 3.0 rebounds in 14.6 minutes per game.

It was the last day of two-a-days in August 2008 when Smith went down with the knee injury.

"I did it right toward the end of the morning session," Smith recalled. "After that, everybody just shut it down. Nobody came for the afternoon session. After that point, I said there's nothing I could do about it. I just have to mentally overcome it and just continue to work hard day-in and day-out."

After undergoing a successful reconstruction in September '08, Smith was a fixture-on-crutches around the Sixers as they earned a playoff spot last season.

This preseason, Smith is averaging 4.6 points and 4.1 rebounds in 16.9 minutes per game. He had his best outing Tuesday when he displayed his outside stroke, making 5 of 10 attempts from the field for 11 points in the Sixers' 90-89 loss to the Wizards at the Wachovia Center.

The Sixers (5-2) will complete their exhibition schedule tonight when they meet the New Jersey Nets (0-6) at St. John's University in Queens, N.Y.

"I want to bring a lot of energy off the bench," Smith said. "It's good just to be back playing with the guys and going up and down the court. I'm just trying to work hard every day and continue to rehab the knee and get it stronger every day."

Jordan has a fresh perspective on Smith's abilities.

"He's really come on," Jordan said. "I really like what he's doing."

Contact staff writer Kevin Tatum at 215-854-2583 or

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: October 23, 2009


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