Josh Smith is a Clipper. On Thursday, Josh Smith signed with Los Angeles for the veteran minimum, rejecting a $2.5 million dollar offer from Houston. Of course, money is not exactly an issue, seeing as Smith is still getting paid around $5 mill for the next few years to not play for Detroit. On leaving Houston, Smith had this to say:
For the Clippers, this is an undeniably good signing, on paper especially. Smoove adds much needed bench depth, and also adds to the pretty surprisingly great offseason in Clipperland. DeAndre Jordan is returning. Paul Pierce still has a little left in the tank. Lance Stephenson is a good basketball player who had a bad season with a bad fit in Charlotte. Smith coming off the bench, as we all know judging by his 16.9 points, 8.4 rebounds, and 3.7 assists per game), helps a squad a lot.
Smith's time in Houston really revitalized his career. After a somewhat ugly exit from Atlanta and just about the ugliest of exits from Detroit, Josh Smith was a pariah -- undeniably talented, but plagued with poor shot selection. I was a skeptic, for sure, largely in part because neither of his former teams were saying anything but "Good riddance."
For the Rockets, this means a couple different things, besides of course that Dwight Howard will no longer be playing with his AAU buddy (did you know they played AAU ball together?). For one, the power forwards that are on the team basically have to stay healthy this whole year. In the regular season absence of Terrence Jones and the playoff absence of Donatas Motiejunas, Josh Smith was wonderful. Though there were some initial growing pains, Smoove taking a sixth-man role and completing the Headband of Brothers was huge for the Rockets' success. When Smith was playing well, the Rockets looked completely unstoppable. Smith, as Jalen Rose liked to bring up, was second in usage rate on the entire Rockets' roster, next to James Harden. Losing that kind of production is big, whether we want to admit it or not.
It also could mean one or all of the following things: 1) Montrezl Harrell is a good backup power forward, 2) Clint Capela can help in filling Smith's role, 3) They can get another power forward either in free agency or in a midseason trade, or 4) They don't need another power forward.
Well, Montrezl is good, sure, but I was pretty sure he was headed to the D-League, especially with the possibility of Smith in the lineup. Capela is great, but he cannot shoot or pass like Josh Smith. There are power forwards available, and I love Chuck Hayes as much as the next guy, but I'm not sure he's the answer. And, well, they might not need another power forward. At this point, in July, it's about health and improvement. If D-Mo comes back as good, or better, and Terrence Jones does the same, we might not need to worry about Josh Smith.
That is, of course, except for when we're playing the Clippers.
So, Goodbye to Josh Smith, but not good riddance. He was the catalyst in arguably the greatest comeback in Rockets franchise history. He was exciting, if frustrating. And, he got his career back on track. Can you really be mad at the guy?