The Pistons Have Waived Josh Smith, So What Now?

Today the Detroit Pistons announced they’re waiving forward Josh Smith. Smith is owed $13.5 million this year, plus an additional $27 million through the 2016-17 season. The team with the highest bid can pick him up off of waivers in the next 48 hours, but some have joked (or not), he won’t get picked up because of his onerous deal. While that’s not as ridiculous as it might first sound, there are some likely culprits for his services.

In the Pistons release, president/coach Stan Van Gundy said the team was going in a different direction, and rather than have Smith sit the bench and collect the $13.5 million he’s owed this season, they wanted to give him an opportunity to catch on with a contending team.

First, though, he has to be picked up on waivers, which is no sure bet considering he’s owed the remainder of this year’s $13.5 million owed as well as $27 million through the next two seasons. Van Gundy explained the rationale for the release:

“Our team has not performed the way we had expected throughout the first third of the season and adjustments need to be made in terms of our focus and direction,” said Stan Van Gundy, Head Coach and President of Basketball Operations for the Detroit Pistons. “We are shifting priorities to aggressively develop our younger players while also expanding the roles of other players in the current rotation to improve performance and build for our future. As we expand certain roles, others will be reduced. In fairness to Josh, being a highly versatile 10-year veteran in this league, we feel it’s best to give him his freedom to move forward. We have full respect for Josh as a player and a person.”

Someone will likely step up and foot the bill for the talented, though under-performing forward, but if he isn’t picked up off waivers, the Pistons would pay him — per Grantland’s Zach Lowe — the $13.5 million owed this season, and can spread the remaining $27 million over five years ($5.4 million a year)

Lowe also mentions the Clippers as a good fit, but cautions that they don’t really have the cap space to take on his salary:

Perhaps the most realistic team we’ve seen mentioned is Houston, per Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski:

The Kings tried trading for Smith this past offseason, which we strongly cautioned against. They declined to make the swap, but rumors persist head coach Mike Malone was let go – at least in part — because of he disagreed with the trade.

But as Lowe notes, the return from Sac-town t match Smith’s contract actually could have been a large negative, which is possibly why it was never brought to fruition:

Bleacher Report’s Jared Zwerling guesses Dallas might be a contender to pick him up since Smoove went to high school with Rajon Rondo and they remain close:

It’s probably not productive for the Lakers to put in a bid, but we wouldn’t put it past them Byron Scott hates three-pointers, and Josh Smith hates making them — he’s connected on just 24.3 percent of them this season. per The Jamieson:

As noted on Twitter, the Pistons were outscored by 192 points with Smith on the floor this season, but were plus-4 when he was on the bench.

Also, Smith has the worst net rating on the team out of all Pistons players who have been on the court longer than 100 minutes this season at minus-11.6.

Lowe says the move by Stan Van Gundy was “gutsy,” but from here it just looks smart — even though there’s a risk they have to eat his contract if no one claims him off waivers, which is a possibility that’s making more sense the longer we think about him.

The Josh Smith experiment in Detroit has been aborted, so no we’ll now see how the Pistons do when he’s no longer clogging the paint with Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond.

Which team should pick up Smith, or should they all pass?

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