Noel: Ish Smith 'has to come back'

The Sixers' Nerlens Noel (right) says Ish Smith is too important not to be offered a new deal.
The Sixers' Nerlens Noel (right) says Ish Smith is too important not to be offered a new deal. (YONG KIM / Staff)
Posted: February 16, 2016

TORONTO - One of the 76ers' cornerstones has an idea about what the team should do in free agency.

Post player Nerlens Noel wants the Sixers to re-sign point guard Ish Smith. Noel expressed that during the NBA All-Star Weekend.

"He has to come back," Noel said. "He has to. He's an important piece to this and why we are so playing so well these past couple of months. And he's helped us at the point guard position, you know, just setting guys up in the post position.

"So he's got to come back."

The Sixers reacquired Smith in a trade with the New Orleans Pelicans in exchange for two second-round picks on Dec. 24. His contact will expire at the end of June.

They first acquired the 6-foot Smith off waivers in February 2015. Despite having a productive stint, Smith was not re-signed last summer.

However, Smith has shown that he's definitely a keeper this time, someone the Sixers can move forward with. The team was a dismal 1-30 before his acquisition. They are 7-15 with him.

The sixth-year veteran out of Wake Forest is averaging 15.3 points and 7.9 assists in his 14 games with the Sixers. He has had five double-doubles and dished out 10 or more assists on seven occasions.

In the offseason, Smith turned down one-year deals with the Phoenix Suns and Sacramento Kings with the belief that he would lock up a deal with the Sixers. However, they never negotiated a contract with him.

So his only option was to sign a non-guaranteed training camp contract with the Washington Wizards.

He was waived Sept. 24 and picked up two days later by the Pelicans. The Sixers passed on the opportunity to claim him off waivers. At the time, the team wanted to look at other players at his position.

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