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 19 days left until Christmas, Detroit Bad Boys would like to celebrate with day 2 of the Trade Josh Smith Advent Calendar.
Today's trade features the starting lineup.
Kyle Singler to SF
Josh Smith to first forward off the bench
Why the Pistons do it:
This is the quickest and easiest way to at least attempt to address the issue. The critics' concerns about the Josh Smith signing have been validated. The problems are several-fold and are highly unlikely to rectify themselves with more time. They include:
- Smith is a poor outside shooter
- Smith is not a strong perimeter defender
- The rebounding ability that Smith offers is devalued playing alongside two other elite rebounders
Nearing the quarter mark of the season, it's time for coach Mo Cheeks to make a move to at least attempt to salvage Smith's tenure with the Pistons. It's about fit. Up to this point, Smith has been positioned where his talents are minimized and his weaknesses magnified, where failure is the most likely outcome. It's been an attempt to keep him in the starting lineup despite being poorly suited for the role.
The team has made improvements, figuring out some of the growing pains of the revamped roster. It's flirting with .500 after winning five of its last seven and look like legitimate contenders for the three seed in the sad Eastern Conference. In addition to Andre Drummond making his claim for the starting center in the All-Star game, the rest of the rotation has exhibited signs of hope.
Smith remains the lone exception.
Why Singler does it:
Singler got the start against the Hawks in Detroit when Smith was punished for missing practice and exploded for 22 points on 9-13 shooting. Singler looks to have gotten his season back on track with several big games, bringing his true shooting percentage up to 57 percent (compared to 53 percent league average for small forwards). His 3-point shooting is creeping back up, thanks in part to shooting 52.6 percent in the past eight games.
Why Mo Cheeks does it:
Now, part of the reason Smith has been taking so many shots is because he really is open. He's just not able to knock them down. Singler can. Singler's actually a small forward. He can keep with opposing wings, tightening up the team's leaky perimeter defense.
Why Smith does it:
Moving Singler into the starting lineup frees Cheeks to use Smith in a way that makes sense, one that maximizes his abilities. It's similar to the move of Rodney Stuckey to the second unit, which so effectively revitalized his career. Not having to share the paint with Greg Monroe and Drummond at the same time, Smith will have more opportunities to get to the rim and clean up the glass. Not being shoehorned as a small forward and starter, he can be used as the way Joe Dumars described when he spoke of Smith's versatility and ability to play multiple positions.
It'd allow for his role to change from a destructive offensive force to his best chance at being a benefit to the Detroit Pistons. While Smith may be inclined to say to hell with the Pistons, he will still only be 31 years old at the end of his current contract - time enough for one last long-term contract. Or for an early retirement. This could determine which it will be.