The holidays are fast approaching, and it seems as if the Pistons' four-year, $53 million signing of Josh Smith was a preemptive lump of coal in their stockings. But with 17 days left until Christmas, Detroit Bad Boys would like to celebrate with day 4 of the Trade Josh Smith Advent Calendar.
This doesn't mean we expect Josh Smith to be traded or benched anytime soon. It's just an exploration of possible deals with the various teams of the NBA if the Pistons decide the "big three" experiment just won't work. Consider it a little advanced recon.
Today's trade features the Golden State Warriors.
Golden State sends:
Why the Warriors do it
Golden State is all in. They're championship window is now. And they have owners with deep pockets that are prepared to spend. They've rewarded Andrew Bogut with a fat extension, signed Andre Iguodala to a big deal in the offseason, and have given no indication they're not prepared to lock in perimeter stars Steph Curry and Klay Thompson when the time comes.
Lee is also on a fat contract (two years after this season for $35 million), but comes from an era before all of Golden State's key pieces entered the fold. He's a quality scorer in the post and from mid-range, but is a sub-par defender. The team has plenty of shooters, but only Bogut can reliably defend the post.
The team has a thin bench and has been forced to rely heavily on Jermaine O'Neal off the bench, uses Iguodala as its primary reserve point guard, and has even had Draymond Green play one-third of the time at power forward, according to basketball-reference.
Getting Smith gives the team a better defender at the power forward spot as well as a willing passer to all its perimeter threats and somebody that can get out and run. Smith would also have much less pressure to try and create offense from the perimeter. And with the Warriors so willing to play small-ball lineups, Smith could even spend time at center and really let the Warriors' athleticism put opponents' on their heels.
Bynum, meanwhile, feels like he was made for Oracle Arena. He can do what he does best on a thin bench like Golden State's -- play 15-20 minutes a night, play a little hero ball where initiates all the offense and makes crazy drives or dishes out to the perimeter for open looks. Either way, he's likely to get the Warrior crowd on its feet often, and won't be relied on to do anything but spell Curry.
Why Detroit does it
Lee would go from starting for the Warriors to a reserve piece in Detroit. But he would be an excellent reserve complement in a three-big rotation along with Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond in a big-three rotation that makes sense. As has been previously discussed, the current rotation of Monroe, Drummond and Smith might be most effective if one of those players came off the bench. This trade functions the same way, but Lee is an even better fit alongside Drummond and Monroe than Smith.
Lee doesn't have 3-point range, but he's an excellent mid-range jump shooter -- usually sitting around 42-44 percent every year. This matches nicely with both Drummond and Monroe, who could play center when Lee is manning the power forward spot. Lee also has the ability to convert around the basket, and should be able to both create and convert for his big-man partner. The Pistons could hash out a rotation where two of three big men are on the floor at all times and not lose much in the way of scoring, rebounding, spacing or flexibility.
Lee's deal is also one year shorter than Smith's, and Toney Douglas' deal expires after this season. Douglas doesn't bring much, but with Brandon Jennings, Chauncey Billups and Rodney Stuckey in the fold, he doesn't really have to. Bynum had become redundant, and Douglas can battle it out with Peyton Siva to earn the right of occasional defensive pest at point guard.