Josh Smith is a name that has been linked to the Pistons for some time, most recently at the 2013 NBA Trade Deadline, and naturally during the free agency period of 2013 given the amount of money the Pistons will have to spend.
In this week's Mailbag, an inquiring Pistons fan asked Keith Langlois about his perspective on the Pistons adding Josh Smith.
Rickey (Detroit): I think we need culture changers back in the locker room. We'll have a high draft pick coming, but I want to talk about free agency. My wish list, besides keeping Jose Calderon, are a combination of Josh Smith, Mike James, O.J. Mayo and Ben Wallace.
Langlois: Not sure that many in the NBA would regard Josh Smith as a "culture changer," Rickey. Terrific talent, no doubt, and someone the Pistons would have loved to have added a few years ago, no doubt. But I don't see the fit any longer with Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond already on board. The money it would take to get Smith to Detroit, with a contract extension to Monroe close on its heels, would eventually paint the Pistons into a corner with too great a percentage of their cap space dedicated to the two power positions. Anything's possible, I suppose, and at some point you're best advised to buy talent at the right value no matter the position. But if you could make these moves in a vacuum, the Pistons would probably like to add some pure wing scoring talent to the roster. It wouldn't hurt, either, if they could add a little veteran playoff experience to the mix to help take some of the burden of leadership off of the young core.
In the comments here at DBB, we've debated this at length, and Langlois weighs in pretty clearly on many of the points we've discussed.
First, money. Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond are going to command maximum contracts, or something very close to it. A max contract in free agency this season creates an unnecessary log jam for the future.
Second, "fit." Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond are going to get the lion's share of the minute at PF and C for (hopefully) the next 10-12 years. What sense does a guy like Smith who will likely command a max salary make playing either backup minutes at Power Forward or Center or out-of-position minutes at Small Forward? Interestingly, Langlois doesn't even suggest playing Smith next to Monroe and Drummond at SF, which may tell us something about how the Pistons evaluate Smith - namely, not as a Small Forward.
Third, need. There is no doubt the pistons need to shore up their front-court rotation over the long-term. Jason Maxiell and Charlie Villanueva could depart this summer. However, the worse-case scenario even if nothing else happens is that Jonas Jerebko and Viacheslav Kravtsov provide backup minutes. While that is certainly not ideal over the long-term, it's not a disastrous stop-gap measure if it allows the Pistons to address the most glaring area of need - competent perimeter play.
Fourth, age and career arc. Perhaps I'm reading a little bit into Keith's comments here, but I am of the opinion that Josh Smith's game will not age well because it is predicated so strongly on his athleticism, which is already starting to decline. I think there's good evidence for this if you look at the arc of his career statistically. Keith might just be underscoring the idea that the Pistons don't need a player like Josh Smith now that they have Drummond and Monroe, but even if he is, let's just say that he's making my point for me for the sake of conversation.
To me, this all but settles the question of whether or not Josh Smith is likely to be a Piston next year. What's your read?