Earlier this week, the New Jersey Nets waived Sean May, who they’d just signed weeks before. The 26-year-old former Final Four M.O.P. at North Carolina broke his foot in a workout, making himself unavailable to contribute to a team that is trying to build a solid foundation to rebound from one of the worst seasons in NBA history.
Still needing depth in the frontcourt to bolster its young core of Brook Lopez and Derrick Favors, today the Nets are expected to sign Joe Smith. The 35-year-old vet has been with seven teams in his career, always able to slide into a role as a dependable backup power forward who can play a few minutes at center. He’s the definition of “solid yet unspectacular” as he reaches the end of his career.
It seems like more than 15 years ago when Smith was the No. 1 overall pick out of Maryland, and he’s been one of the hardest guys to peg in the “bust” argument when it comes to draft arguments. He’s averaged 11.0 points and 6.5 boards for his career, topping out at 18.7 ppg and 8.5 rpg in his second year with the Warriors. He hasn’t been a colossal bust, but he’s had a decent NBA career.
The good news for the Nets? Smith can help mentor Favors and Lopez on the tricks of the trade and toughen them up a little in practice. The overly optimistic outlook? Smith has been in the playoffs in nine of his 15 pro seasons. That means New Jersey could have a 60 percent chance of making the playoffs.
OK, let’s not go that far. But this is still a good move for a developing team.