Josh Smith being ‘shopped’ by Pistons, according to report
Are the Pistons finally ready to part ways with their expensive forward?
The Detroit Pistons passed on the chance to trade forward Josh Smith over the summer, but now they’re reportedly considering a change of heart. The Pistons are “shopping” Smith and open to moving him for the right package, reports Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News.
This isn’t the first time we’ve heard trade rumors surrounding Smith, who struggled badly in his first year with the Pistons after signing a four-year, $56 million deal in 2013. The Pistons and Kings reportedly discussed a deal at length during the offseason, but new team president Stan Van Gundy wanted to see if he could unleash Smith’s potential before letting the forward go.
That experiment hasn’t been going well, as the Pistons are 5-20 and near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings. With rumors surfacing that upcoming free agent and fellow big man Greg Monroe is growing unhappy with his role in Detroit, Van Gundy appears to be considering blowing up the entire roster.
But Smith remains one of the most talented players on the Pistons’ roster, and he’s signed to a lucrative deal through the 2016-17 season. Could the team really move him soon?
Why it makes sense
Smith and Pistons haven’t been a good match from the beginning. The team originally signed him hoping that a move to small forward would be possible, allowing for a massive frontcourt featuring Smith, Monroe and Andre Drummond. But it’s become increasingly clear that Smith’s lack of a perimeter game prevents him from playing on the wing.
Or at least, that lack of shooting ability should prevent him from playing near the arc. Instead, Smith has developed a nasty habit for taking long jumpers, a big part of why he’s shot just 41 percent over his year-plus in the Motor City.
Even though Smith has been better this season, taking more shots around the basket and significantly fewer threes, his efficiency has continued to suffer. Finishing at the rim — long one of Smith’s strengths — has developed into a concern, as his shooting percentage inside three feet has dropped from 71 percent to 59 percent.
The combination of questionable decision making and poor shooting ability is an ugly one, and while Smith brings a lot of unique skills to the table, it wouldn’t be surprising if Van Gundy is already tiring of spending so much cap space on such an inefficient player.
Why it doesn’t make sense
The market for Smith can’t be very strong these days given the aforementioned issues he’s had the past couple years. Goodwill says that the Kings’ offer over the summer primarily offered financial relief and the Pistons still may be holding out hope that someone offers a first-round draft pick or a talented young prospect.
It’s also hard to project how many teams would really be interested in Smith given the multi-year commitment. Sacramento still reportedly has interest, per Goodwill, but that’s just one team and it’s unlikely the Kings offer more now than they did a few months ago.
Even if there are other teams out there that could use an athletic power forward with Smith’s skillset, that doesn’t mean they’re necessarily interested at the asking price. It’s hard to imagine any sort of bidding war for Smith’s services, and that means Detroit could prefer to stand pat on that end.
It’s not like there’s no room for Smith with the Pistons long-term, after all. Monroe is set to become an unrestricted free agent after the season and seems ready to give it a shot elsewhere. It’s not inconceivable that Smith ends up sticking around to take over as the primary power forward once Monroe walks during the offseason.
Likelihood it happens
The Pistons are ready to move Smith if they’re shopping him to other teams, so it’s more a question of whether anyone steps up with the right offer. It only takes one desperate team (ahem, Sacramento) and it wouldn’t be surprising if Van Gundy is working the phones. Smith may still find his place in Detroit, but he’s running out of time. 5 out of 10.