Things are quite hectic right now for the Los Angeles Clippers, and they might get out of their slightly stunned mode by signing Josh Smith, who isn’t exactly a center, but playing a big man who isn’t a true ‘5’ isn’t that rare these days. The Houston Rockets wouldn’t mind keeping a player they sorta helped out last season by signing.
Losing DeAndre Jordan through free agency to the Dallas Mavericks came as a surprise to the Clippers, who were convinced they would retain him, but turns out that playing next to Chris Paul isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. He’s a great point guard and all and gave Jordan plenty of moments to hang above the rim and dunk the ball with ferocity, but it didn’t help the Clippers retain a key aspect of their championship hopes. Paul Pierce did sign for them, but maybe he made a mistake?
The Clippers are going to try and salvage something out of this free agency market, even if it means settling for a lesser center than Jordan. Don’t get me wrong, Jordan isn’t exactly a complete big man. In the mid 1990’s he would have been an afterthought. But in today’s NBA, Jordan is a very good and useful center to have. Not the best in the NBA, far from it (Mavericks just building him up), but it’s definitely a loss for the Clippers considering who they can sign.
Smith is someone they can sign. Smith slightly rehabbed his name and reputation with his stint on the Rockets. After getting cut from the Detroit Pistons who didn’t care that they have to pay him so much money and take a big cap hit for a while because things weren’t working out with Smith in pretty much every conceivable way.
Smith averaged 12 points, 6 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game for the Rockets in smaller role than he’s used to, playing 25.5 minutes a night. But he was very good in the postseason, especially in the series against the Clippers, doing quite well with his long range shooting (38%) and showing he can protect the rim if necessary, even if he’s a little undersized for the spot.
The Clippers are probably going to be looking for a true center anyway, but they’re not going to find someone who can play too many minutes. Smith? He gives them a little bit more flexibility and he’s not going to cost a lot of money, still owed $26 million by the Detroit Pistons which makes it easier for him to accept small deals from teams trying to sign him.
He might end up with the Houston Rockets after all. Playing next to Dwight Howard isn’t such a bad thing, but Smith might have a bigger role waiting for him in Los Angeles, and that could be more important to him than more money and playing next to a good friend.