In a move that was a surprise to even the league’s closest observers, the Pistons used the stretch provision available in the league’s collective bargaining agreement to release Josh Smith.
Smith wasn’t helping a dismal Pistons team that is off to a start of just 5-23 on the season, and rather than watch him continue to shoot the team further into oblivion, Stan Van Gundy made the decision simply to cut him loose.
It remains to be seen if that will be a wise move for the Pistons; while Smith’s cap hit will be lessened, he will now be a part of it for the next five seasons.
There was evidently little to no value for Smith in trade around the league, especially considering the ridiculous salary that came attached. But now, when Smith won’t cost very much at all, there is a whole host of teams interested in retaining his services — even though the Rockets are the clear front runners at this stage of the proceedings.
From Sam Amick of USA Today:
Josh Smith won’t clear waivers until 5 pm ET tomorrow, but Rockets still very confident he’ll come their way. Next game Friday v. Memphis.
And from Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders:
Virtually every team in the league checked in on Josh to understand whats going on — Houston still seen as the front runner.
Josh is expected to clear the NBA waiver process tomorrow at 5pm EST, although that does not mean he’ll make a decision quickly.
Josh is seeking a good fit for him as a player first, after a bad fit in Detroit, he’s much more focused on fit and his career than friends.
While somewhat obvious – sources close to Josh Smith say friendships with players will not be a key factor in his decision.
Smith is in a fantastic situation personally — not only does he get to bail on Detroit’s sinking ship (which he certainly had a hand in causing), but money won’t be a concern wherever he lands, thanks to being able to receive every last dollar from his contract with the Pistons.
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Smith can choose the situation that’s best for him, and can rebuild his reputation while immediately becoming a part of a winning situation. It appears as though that will happen in Houston, though it’s clear he has relatively limitless options.