According to Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press, the Pistons apparently decided to cut ties with Smith only after potential trade partners asked for a first-round pick to take his contract off Detroit's hands:
Obviously developing story, but #Pistons have been desperately trying to move in recent days, but teams wanting a first-rounder in return.— Vincent Ellis (@Vincent_Ellis56) December 22, 2014
Basically a first-rounder to take Smith off their hands. #Pistons— Vincent Ellis (@Vincent_Ellis56) December 22, 2014
That would've been pretty contradictory to an aim to build for the future. Giving up a first rounder for Smith would have compounded the problem Smith created and had to be absolutely off the table. If benching him for the rest of the season and waiting to see if the trade market became more favorable was not a realistic, non-toxic option, then the only remaining option for SVG and the Pistons was to simply eat the checks and let him go.
Of course, this could have been avoided. Remember, the Pistons reportedly had a trade on the table over the summer that would have sent Smith to the Kings, but SVG turned it down. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! again brought up that trade opportunity after this Smith news broke.
SVG thought he could make it work with Smith, Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond, though, and he even expressed excitement about the team's potential with those three talents.
Welp, and so it is -- notwithstanding Dumars being the one who stupidly signed Smith, SVG's hubris cost the Pistons a lot of games this season and the Pistons millions of dollars over the next five years.
More in a minute.