Report: Clippers trade Josh Smith to Rockets

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The Rockets reportedly offered Josh Smith the Non-Bird exception ($2,492,400) to re-sign last summer.

Instead, Smith took a minimum contract ($1,499,187) to join the Clippers.

Joke’s on Smith.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

https://twitter.com/WojVerticalNBA/status/690561367917645825

By now, Smith might not mind being sent back to Houston, even if he’s locked into less money than he could’ve gotten by just re-signing with the Rockets in the first place. He argued with a coach, barely played lately and had been on the trade block for a while.

Smith could help Houston, especially with Dwight Howard sidelined. That means more center minutes for Clint Capela, who had been starting at power forward. Smith is a decent power forward when the other options are an erratic Terrence Jones, injured Donatas Motiejunas and rookie Montrezl Harrell.

Rockets general manager Daryl Morey said he wanted to stick with his current group rather than make a trade. By his standards, this accomplishes that. He has made an in-season trade each year he has run the team. This one is pretty minor, and it makes it less likely Houston does something major. The Rockets are now just $612,335 $524,148 below the hard cap.

If the Clippers are covering Houston’s portion of Smith’s remaining salary, that’s $462,494. The NBA covers the other $269,462, because Smith is on a one-year minimum contract and has played more than two years in the league.

That would still leave the Rockets on the hook for an extra $1,420,914 in luxury-tax payments. That’s not a huge price for Smith, especially with the No. 5 seed and a first-round matchup with the Clippers – by far the most vulnerable of the West’s top four teams – in reach.

The Clippers, on the other hand, are now in line to save $2,368,190 in luxury tax. So, paying Smith’s remaining salary is a net win. Of course, the Clippers could cut into that savings by signing someone to fill their now vacant roster spot.

Maarty Leunen, the No. 54 pick in 2008, is 30. Sergei Lishouk, the No. 49 pick in 2004, is 33. It’s unlikely either comes to the NBA, but Leunen has a little more value.