This article was first published on YahooSports.com on June 21, 2018, and can be seen here.
The Philadelphia 76ers selected Mikal Bridges with the No. 10 pick in the NBA draft, keeping the Villanova swingman and Philadelphia-area native playing for his hometown team.
It was a dream come true for the 21-year-old.
“It’s a great feeling to get picked by the Sixers,” Bridges said at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Thursday night. “Just watching them, especially this year, growing up watching them, going to games when I was young, it’s a blessing. My mom working there, went to Villanova right around the corner, played in Wells Fargo throughout the whole year this year. It’s just truly a blessing.”
Well, unfortunately for Bridges, that dream lasted just six picks.
The 76ers struck a deal to trade Bridges to the Phoenix Suns about 45 minutes later for Texas Tech’s Zhaire Smith, who was selected by the Suns with the No. 16 pick in the draft.
Sources: Philadelphia is trading Mikal Bridges to Phoenix for Zhaire Smith.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 22, 2018
Bridges thought he’d fit in perfectly with the 76ers, too — especially with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid.
And after averaging 17.7 points and 5.3 rebounds in more than 32 minutes per game and winning a national championship for Villanova — which sits not even 25 miles from the 76ers arena — last season, it’s hard to see how Bridges wouldn’t be a solid fit.
“I mean, I watch those guys and I watch how unbelievable they are, how tough they are,” Bridges said. “Just watching college and going to the games, watching on TV, when people tell you, ‘oh, you could go to the Sixers,’ you kind of watch and see where you’re going to be out there, like how you fit yourself between them. I feel like I can correlate with them pretty well for sure.”
Bridges didn’t know the deal had gone down, either, apparently completing an entire news conference about his future with the 76ers before he learned that he was actually headed to Phoenix at the tail end of it.
Mikal Bridges just did an entire press conference talking about staying in Philly. He was traded as it ended. He had no idea.— Dan Wetzel (@DanWetzel) June 22, 2018
Instead, Bridges will join Deandre Ayton in Phoenix, who was taken by the Suns with the No. 1 overall pick.
The 76ers will instead get Smith, the 6-foot-4 guard out of Texas Tech. Smith put up 11.3 points and five rebounds while averaging 28.4 minutes per game for the Red Raiders last season, starting in 21-of-37 games.
To complete the deal, the Suns also gave the 76ers a 2021 first-round pick they had previously acquired from Miami.
Now, Bridges can’t be too upset. After all, he was drafted high in the first round and can now call himself a professional basketball player.
However, it has to be a little rough after that 45 minutes of pure excitement to be traded away from your hometown team.