Josh Smith

One year after making Josh Smith a huge free agent signing, the Detroit Pistons are trying to trade away the disappointing player, with the Sacramento Kings looking like potential partners for the deal, although it’s not quite clear what they’ll be giving in return.

The current names being discussed are Jason Thompson and Derrick Williams, who together take about $13 million of cap space. Josh Smith has three more years on his deal, making $13.5 million a season. In any case, the Pistons have plenty of cap space going into the offseason with only $42 million on the books after Charlie Villanueva and Rodney Stuckey became free agents, and both, even if re-signed, won’t be getting the deals they had previously.

Why would the Kings take this deal? Smith struggled in a front court alongside Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe, averaging 16.4 points while shooting a career low 41.9% from the field, playing too much as a small forward and far away from the rim, where he tends to take too many shots and make bad decisions. With the Kings, he’ll be at the ‘4’ position again, joining DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay in the front court.

The Kings like the deal for a couple of reasons: Mike Malone wants them to give him some more talent, and with $68 million on the salary cap towards salaries, a trade is the best the Kings can do right now. It also will be done without any players the Kings have future plans about: Either the Thompson-Williams combination or trying to do it with Carl Landry and Jason Terry, who also make around the same amount. In any case, financially, no matter the tandem, the deal is doable.

The Pistons might not want to rebuild: They have Drummond, Monore (if they re-sign him) and Brandon Jennings, with Stan Van Gundy probably interested in somewhat teaching him about playing a more team-oriented basketball, the way you’d expect a point guard who should have learned by now to be less selfish. However, something about the current roster obviously isn’t working, and Smith might be the poster face of that dysfunction.

Maybe in Sacramento he’ll change. The Kings would probably be happy with getting Smith of the Hawks back. He’d still be taking too many jumpers and shots he simply isn’t designed to be good at, but playing closer to the rim and without two big players clogging the paint, maybe the Kings can get the best out of a very talented player, who for some reasons refuses to see the light and play the way he’s supposed to.

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