Smith might have been one of the most colossal free agent busts in NBA history as a member of the Detroit Pistons, but several teams with championship aspirations look ready to take a gamble on the talented but frustrating power forward.
The Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Clippers have all registered some form of interest, according to media reports (see tweets at bottom of story). The Sacramento Kings, meanwhile, are reportedly still interested after not being able to consummate a deal for Smith in the offseason.
All the Josh Smith
All the Josh Smith
The appeal for playoff contenders makes sense. At this point, Smith goes from a $13.5 million albatross to a worthy gamble. A team will only be responsible for paying him the pro-rated portion of the league minimum. If he works out he's a great post defender who isn't asked a lot to do on offense. If he continues to jack up a bunch of ill-advised shots he can quickly be released for someone else to take a gamble on.
Yahoo's Adrian Wojnarowski indicates that the Rockets might have the upper-hand in signing Smith:
Houston has advantage on most Josh Smith suitors, who only have minimum slots available: Rockets can offer Smith its bi-annual exception.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) December 22, 2014
I am unsure why having more money to offer Smith makes a dent as whatever he is paid by another club this season is money that the Pistons will not be responsible for. Unless I am misunderstanding something regarding the salary cap, Smith will make $13.5 million this season no matter who signs him after he clears waivers.
Smith is averaging 13.1 points, 7.2 rebounds, 4.7 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.7 blocks so far this season.
Clippers have initial interest with Josh Smith, but want to dig deeper before jumping in, league source tells Yahoo Sports.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) December 22, 2014
Houston has an interest in signing Josh Smith, league sources tell Yahoo Sports.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) December 22, 2014
ESPN sources say both Kings and Mavericks have interest in signing Josh Smith as a free agent if (when) he clears waivers Wednesday— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) December 22, 2014