In a stunning move, the Detroit Pistons have released forward Josh Smith. The Pistons unsuccessfully attempted to trade Smith, who has 2-years and $26 million left on his contract after this season. He’ll have 48 hours to clear waivers, a process in which teams will have the opportunity to pick up the money remaining money on the 4-year, $54 million contract he signed in 2013. Pistons head coach and team president Stan Van Gundy cited the team’s direction, the development of young players and the fairness to Josh to continue his career with another team as reasons for his release.
With the recent trade of Brandan Wright to the Boston Celtics and a glaring hole at the backup center position, the obvious question is does Smith become Wright’s replacement? At 6’9”, 225 pounds, Smith is an athletic big that bares an obvious comparable physical resemblance to Wright (6’10”, 210lbs). Smith is currently averaging 13.1 points, 4.7 assists, 7.2 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game in his second season for the Pistons. As a player, Smith is seen as a long, agile big who runs the floor well, but lacks a mid-range jumper. He’s a career 45.6 percent field goal shooter and can be a great rebounder (7.8 per game career average) when motivated.
ESPN sources say both Kings and Mavericks have interest in signing Josh Smith as a free agent if (when) he clears waivers Wednesday
— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) December 22, 2014
There are obvious character concerns that would have the Mavericks’ brass scoffing at the idea of adding Smith, but at the veterans minimum he could be a deal too good to pass up. Newly acquired point guard has a relationship with Smith going back to their high school days at Oak Hill Academy and according to Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News, Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle said today during morning shoot around that Smith is a player “I respect a lot.”
The Mavs will have plenty of competition for Smith’s services, including division rival Houston Rockets, who may have the fast track to sign Smith to be their starting power forward as well as a $2 million bi-annual exception to offer. The Mavs can only offer the veterans minimum (around $1 million) and a backup reserve role for a guy who has started 97 percent of the games he’s played in his NBA career.
As always, expect Mark Cuban, Rick Carlisle and Donnie Nelson to do their due diligence before adding Smith to the Mavs roster, but don’t be surprised if you see Smith in Mavs blue come Christmas.
Photo/Video Credit: Mike Fisher/DallasBasketball.com; Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images
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