The Philadelphia 76ers had no intention of trading Mikal Bridges when they drafted him at No. 10 overall at the 2018 NBA draft, multiple sources tell The Athletic.
The 76ers entered the draft, run by Brett Brown shortly after Bryan Colangelo resigned in the wake of a social media scandal, with Bridges and Zhaire Smith next to each other on their board. Bridges was the favorite of the coaching staff while the team's scouts preferred Smith. The organization settled on Bridges as the better option of the two.
When Bridges received a call from a member of the Philadelphia front office that he was their pick at No. 10, there was no indication he would play anywhere but the same city had played in high school and college.
The Phoenix Suns, however, hoped to make a deal for Bridges. The Suns tried to trade up with the Cleveland Cavaliers at No. 8 and the New York Knicks at No. 9, but both teams said no. The 76ers did as well but their denial was softer. Phoenix was trying to trade up for either Bridges or Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
The 76ers were interested in acquiring an unprotected first round pick from the Miami Heat that the Suns owned, which Phoenix eventually included in their offer about a minute before the pick at No. 16 was due.
The trade was a rare one in which a draft night deal was made on the fly.
“It doesn’t,” one league source said. “Usually it’s pre-arranged; 95 percent of the time it’s pre-arranged.”
While Smith didn't work out for the 76ers, the Miami pick eventually allowed them to acquire Tobias Harris.
“When Mikal got that hat and walked across the stage I think he thought, and the 76ers thought, that he was going to be a Philadelphia 76er,” Ryan McDonough said. “That was the plan at the time. But the plan changed.”