The Detroit Pistons want a mulligan on the 2014-15 season. And since the NBA won't let them replay the season's first 28 games (in which they went 5-23), the next best option was to release high-priced forward Josh Smith.
Pistons general manager Jeff Bower spoke with Matt Dery on Detroit Sports 105.1 today and spoke about the surprise release of Smith.
While Bower largely reiterated the statements team president Stan Van Gundy made in the team's official press release, he did make a little bit of news. Namely, the Pistons decided to make this mostly unprecedented move strictly based on the team's schedule.
Specifically, the team has a lot of practice days coming up between now and the new year and wanted to see what a Josh Smith-less team could do.
"Josh was not the target and was not the only problem. Given where we are and given the need for us to redistribute roles and shot opportunities and usage rates on our team, that became the dominant thought.
"Our ability to shift the ball around and shift how players are used, we felt it wasn't fair to Josh to totally minimize his role or reduce his role, but we did feel that we had to make changes similar to that for us to move forward.
"This wasn't entirely about Josh and what he did or didn't do. This was about our team and moving forward with it and changing roles that we felt had to be change. And again, having people in roles that fit and that they accept is so crucial for them being successful.
"What had the most bearing on the time of this decision is our schedule and the practice days available. Stan had earmarked these days ... to get back on the practice court with a full set of objectives and areas of improvement that we're really looking at making progress at during this time frame."
You don't have to read too far between the lines to understand that the team is finally committed on finding out what a team led by Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond can do. Also, it solidifies Jonas Jerebko as the primary reserve power forward.
Smith, it appears, just takes up too much of the available oxygen -- especially on a bad team such as the Pistons. Too many shots, too many passes, too much dribbling, too much of everything. Now, with Smith gone the players don't have to fit in around the team's highest paid player. Instead, they have to figure out how to fit without him.
Whether Jerebko and Monroe are even interested in returning beyond this season (both are unrestricted free agents) remains to be seen, but the Pistons are at least curious what the trio can do.
Elsewhere in the interview, Bower repeatedly reiterated how important the team felt gaining the asset of additional cap space was at it approaches the next two offseasons. Releasing Smith via the stretch provision opens up $8.1 million in cap space each of the next two years.
Bower also mentioned that it was time to see what the young players can do. That means the Pistons might not be done dealing. While the team is unlikely to trade offseason signing Jodie Meeks who is just getting healthy after a back injury in the preseason, other trade candidates include veterans Caron Butler, D.J. Augustin and Brandon Jennings.