In the 2015 NBA Playoffs, Josh Smith was a huge reason the Houston Rockets went as deep as they did, whether it was his play as passing power forward in the series with the Dallas Mavericks (lobbying multiple alley-oops to childhood friend Dwight Howard in Game 2) or his long range shooting which fueled an improbable Game 6 comeback against the Los Angeles Clippers in round 2. Despite his heroics, the franchise failed to keep him as a free agent, as he signed on the veteran’s minimum salary with the Clippers in the summer.
Through the first half of the 2015-16 NBA season, the Rockets have disappointed to say the least. So what do they do? They trade for Josh Smith, who has failed to find any role with the Clippers leading to negligible playing time.
According to league sources, several Rockets players were eager to have Smith back in Houston. Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski first reported this trade, which saves the Clippers 2 million dollars in luxury tax.
"I'm excited. I feel great," Smith told Fox 26 Houston about the deal. "It's a place that I probably should have never left."
Daryl Morey, General Manager of the Rockets, didn’t hold back and took to Twitter to welcome Smith back to Houston:
Welcome back Josh Smith! #bandbacktogether— Daryl Morey (@dmorey) January 22, 2016
Also, part of the transaction are the draft rights of two players (expected to not play in the league) and $460,000 in cash. The money will be paid by the Clippers as part of the remaining money on Smith’s contract. Houston will send the draft rights to Maarty Leunen while the Clippers will send the rights to Sergei Lishouk.
In 32 games representing the Clippers, Smith averaged 5.7 points, 3.9 rebounds, 1.3 assists in 14.4 minutes on the court. Last season for the Rockets, Smith averaged 12 points, 6 rebounds, 2.6 assists in 25.5 minutes of playing time.
Houston Rockets easily win this deal
Other than a couple of changes, the Rockets roster from this season is pretty similar to the one that made a run to the Western Conference Finals last Playoffs.
Bringing Smith into an environment with people he is familiar with will surely benefit the team and Smith’s game at the same time. Howard’s game and his impact on the offensive end have been a huge topic of debate so far this season, having Smith alongside him in the frontcourt will do his morale only good.
With the tax cap for this season at 70 million dollars and the Rockets already well over with a roster worth 84 million dollars, absorbing Smith’s contract won't cost them much. His contract might be the veteran’s minimum but his value to the team would be a lot-lot more.
Meanwhile, for the Clippers all the trade does is open up a roster spot, which they could potentially fill with players looking to buy out their contracts with their team.Published 23 Jan 2016, 19:26 IST