Josh Smith says he’s “excited” to be reunited with Dwight Howard


Dwight Howard and Josh Smith played on the same AAU team out of Atlanta back in the day — yes, that was a pretty wicked team — and have remained friends ever since.

That was one of the draws for Smith to sign with the Houston Rockets, something he has told the teams pursuing him will happen, according to multiple reports. It may take a couple of days until ink hits paper, but it’s happening.

Smith wanted minutes as a starter and he wanted to contend for a ring and that, along with Howard, made Houston the logical landing spot. Smith told Fox 26 news in Houston he is looking forward to a fresh start.

“It’s an exciting time for me,” Smith said in an interview with FOX26 Sports. “Being able to be reunited with a good friend and one of the best teammates I ever played with, I think we can definitely do something special.

“Playing beside the best two-guard in the game right now in James Harden, what more can you ask for.”

“I think I can add to their toughness,” Smith said. “I think I can add to their versatility at the four position, being able to pass the basketball and score the ball down low. Just add another basketball IQ, which will help when we make it to the postseason.”

Smith should add depth for the Rockets, something they need with starting power forward Terrence Jones still out with a nerve issue in his leg. Smith can help their defense and rebounding as well.

This is a low-risk move by the Rockets, who picked Smith up for just the bi-annual exception of $2 million a year. If it turns out Smith’s decline the past couple years — specifically his struggles to score around the rim — was not largely due to the dysfunction of that roster the Rockets still will have Jones and Donatas Motiejunas at the four and can just bury Smith on the bench. He doesn’t cost much. This would still be the Harden and Howard show either way, it’s just a matter of what is around them being title worthy.

Reports: Kevin McHale gets three year, $13 million extension to coach Rockets


Kevin McHale earned this.

After a fast start to the season for the Rockets the franchise has decided to give the Hall-of-Fame player a three year extension as coach, something first reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports and since confirmed by other sources.

The three-year deal is worth nearly $13 million, league sources told Yahoo Sports. McHale had been in the final season of his original three-year contract and completed an agreement on a new deal on Wednesday morning, sources said.

He entered this season as a lame duck in the last year of his contract on a seat that was getting warm — management wanted to see a step forward yet over the summer the team lost quality NBA rotation players in Chandler Parsons, Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin. GM Daryl Morey had gone big game hunting in free agency (Chris Bosh in particular) and missed and now on paper the Rockets seemed poised to take a step back.

But McHale has got them playing defense — they are giving up just 97.5 points per 100 possessions, second best in the NBA and 5.6 points per 100 better than last season. Assistant coach J.B. Bickerstaff deserves a lot of credit for that defensive growth.

That defense has propelled them to a 20-7 record despite not having Dwight Howard for extended stretches. The Rockets have added some of the depth they lost by bringing in Corey Brewer from Minnesota in a trade. The Rockets are also considered the frontrunners to land Josh Smith as a free agent once he clears waivers (5 p.m. ET Dec. 24, although a decision isn’t expected on where he plays next for a few days).

McHale is one of the good guys around the league, quick with great stories from his legendary Celtics days, and he generally is upbeat (for a coach). But he showed this year he knows what to do on the bench, and he’s now been rewarded for it.

Reports: Josh Smith agrees to sign with Rockets once he clears waivers


Houston has been the front-runner to land Josh Smith for a few good reasons. First, Smith and Dwight Howard have a strong relationship. Second, they could offer more money than the minimum (they had the bi-annual exception at just over $2 million a season. And they have minutes — starting power forward Terrence Jones is out right now, and even when Jones returns Smith could (and reportedly was told would) start.

All that was good enough to convince Smith — he has chosen Houston, something first reported by Adrain Wojnarowski at Yahoo Sports and since confirmed by other reports.

Smith had wanted to be on a contender and while other teams came calling the fit and the fact that the Rockets are 20-7 and have James Harden playing at an MVP level was enough.

This is a low-risk gamble by the Rockets — it’s not costing them much and if it doesn’t work they have the depth to cover for him once Jones gets healthy. This move, along with the recent trade for Corey Brewer, could add some quality depth to a Rockets team that has to be considered potential contenders in the West. Of course, the problem in the West is six or seven other teams can legitimately make that same claim. For the Rockets these moves are seen as a leg up in a conference with no margin for error.

The question is what Smith will they get? How much of his recent struggles were about the challenging fit and situation in Detroit? This is a guy with a below league average PER not just this season but the last two.

Look at it this way: Detroit just convinced its owner to eat $27 million just to dump Smith and walk away. That is not something you do if you think the guy has anything left in the tank of value.

Look at Smith’s shot chart for this season.


That is a lot of red. Stan Van Gundy weaned Smith off his addiction for ill-advised threes, but the problem was he wasn’t making the shots closer to the basket that used to be where he had value. Smith is just now missing from everywhere. Maybe he plays better, maybe he shoots better in Houston, but I want to see it before I believe it.

That said, he’s a defensive upgrade, he can grab boards and should be able to pitch in. If it doesn’t work out, this is just $2 million next year and both Jones and Donatas Motiejunas can eat up the minutes if Smith doesn’t work out.

Suns trade Anthony Tolliver to Pistons for Tony Mitchell


The Suns and the Pistons announced the completion of a minor trade on Wednesday, but one that should be at least somewhat beneficial for both sides.

Phoenix sent Anthony Tolliver to Detroit in exchange for Tony Mitchell.

Tolliver was signed by the Suns as a free agent this offseason, with the hope that he could provide some additional shooting for the team in a reserve role off the bench. But he struggled to contribute anything of meaning when he got his opportunities — Tolliver averaged just 3.3 points in 11.3 minutes per contest, and did not play in the Suns’ last four games.

Mitchell, meanwhile, was selected 37th overall by the Pistons in the 2013 NBA Draft, but hadn’t seen any regular season game action this year. In six D-League appearances, he’s averaged 8.2 points and 7.2 rebounds per contest.

Phoenix is expected to waive Mitchell, reports Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic. Once that move is complete, the Suns will have increased their available salary cap space to $6.1 million.

Report: Lakers interested in Josh Smith, can offer more money than other reported suitors


Josh Smith, released by the Pistons, has no shortage of suitors.

The Rockets, Mavericks, Clippers, Kings and Heat all reportedly have interest.

Though Houston considers itself the front-runner, one other team also wants in the mix – the Lakers.

Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders:

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Even if Miami gets a disabled-player exception for Josh McRoberts, whom the Heat said is probably out for the season, they couldn’t offer as much as the Lakers, who are armed with Steve Nash’s disabled-player exception.

Here’s how much each team could offer Smith for the rest of the season – both in terms of cost to the team and money toward Smith after the Pistons set off a portion of his new salary – if he signs tonight:

Team Cost to team Extra money for Smith
Lakers $4,850,500 $2,833,491
Heat $2,652,500 $1,734,491
Rockets $2,077,000 $1,446,741
Mavericks $608,367 $889,651
Clippers $608,367 $889,651
Kings $608,367 $889,651

The Lakers have the worst record among those teams, so their best pitch is financial – unless Smith appreciates the comedic potential of him joining a team that already features Kobe Bryant, Nick Young and Carlos Boozer.