The Houston Rockets will take a chance on Josh Smith, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. The former Detroit Piston is expected to land in Houston once he clears waivers. Houston will beat out several teams for his services, including Dallas, Miami, Memphis and Sacramento.
The Pistons waived Smith on Monday despite the forward still having two years and about $26 million left on his contract after this season. Houston has long coveted Smith and reportedly told him he'd be in line to start at power forward over promising youngsters Donatas Motiejunas and Terrence Jones.
The Pistons signed Smith to a four-year, $54 million deal in 2013, but the move turned out to be an enormous blunder. The fit was questionable from the start, and his poor play on both ends of the floor played a big factor in Detroit's 5-23 start this season. The 29-year-old is shooting just over 39 percent overall and 24 percent from three on the season, and he's under 47 percent from the free throw line.
5 indisputable truths
5 indisputable truths
The Pistons were unable to find a trade partner for Smith's albatross contract, so they chose to waive him using the stretch provision. By doing this, Smith will show up on Detroit's cap sheet for the next five seasons.
Despite how poorly Smith has played the last few seasons, the Rockets are hoping they can turn him around. Smith is best friends with Dwight Howard dating back to their childhood, and playing for a contender could straighten the forward out.
It's unclear whether Smith will start or be brought off the bench. Montiejunas has been effective as the starting power forward since Jones went down with a leg injury in early November, and Jones himself was effective in the few games he played before getting hurt.
While Smith is a terrible shooter, he's still a good passer for a big man and could work in a more limited role if he focuses on playing to his strengths. But that's easier said than done, and although he's a talented player coming on the cheap, Houston is taking a gamble by bringing in a player with his baggage.
The Rockets are 20-7 and in the thick of it in the loaded Western Conference, but they clearly think Smith is worth the risk and could be the missing piece to the championship puzzle.