Yes, this is purely speculative. I'm not going to waste your time by pretending to have inside knowledge. Good, glad that's out of the way.
There have been a few rounds of trade rumors involving Josh Smith and the Sacramento Kings, who seem to be interested in adding the athletic power forward to their strange brew of high-usage talent. There isn't a new percolating rumor but perhaps one will get bubbling as the Kings have made a few moves that seem to indicate another, bigger move on the horizon.
Specifically, the Kings traded a player they had no use for, Jason Terry, for contracts that they might find extremely useful. Even more specifically, the Kings traded an expiring contract for unguaranteed deals of Alonzo Gee ($3 million) and Scotty Hopson ($1.45 million) and/or Josh Powell ($1.3 million).
Prior to the trade, the Kings roster was at 17 players, though two of those players -- Deonte Burton and Sim Bhullar -- were undrafted rookies who are most likely training camp bodies who are establishing a connection with the NBA club before inevitably developing in the D-League.
The Kings then traded Terry to Houston and stretched/waived Wayne Ellington. So perhaps this bit of roster shuffling is all about needing roster spots and not wanting to pay Terry and paying a couple second-round picks for that right. But perhaps something bigger is brewing.
We know that the Kings were interested in a Smith trade if it meant the team could unload Jason Thompson in the deal. Reports also indicate that the Pistons were the team to ultimately walk away from the process. Presumably, the Kings weren't offering up an enticing enough package. As much as it makes sense to trade Smith for whatever you can get, Detroit isn't interested in just giving him away, especially if it means paying a guy like Terry $5 million when he has no real place on the team.
Now, though, the Kings can sweeten the pot with unguaranteed deals and a couple traded player exceptions that fit nicely with the Pistons' surplus players.
The Pistons have roster issues of their own as they have 15 players under contract and still haven't brought back Greg Monroe. It seems the Pistons would love to offload at least Will Bynum in any deal, and the Kings could use a little point guard depth. Luigi Datome, Tony Mitchell and maybe even Jonas Jerebko and to a lesser extent Kyle Singler could also be available.
Factoring in the unguaranteed contracts in to the equation, the Kings could offer up the ugly Thompson contract, the Derrick Williams deal that only has a qualifying option after this year and unguaranteed players who would immediately be waived or a TPE for Smith, Bynum and Jerebko.
The Pistons would be able to open up a roster spot for Monroe, add two backup power forwards and send out two backup power forwards while reducing their future salary commitment going forward by about $6 million per year through 2016-17. That's not a great return for Smith, but there's not going to be a great return for Smith.
The likelihood of this happening is pretty slim, maybe 10 percent. But from the Kings' perspective I'm not sure why you do this deal unless you have something larger in mind. The new ownership has made a lot of noise about competing in the West and adding talent and while Terry has no value to the team sending out picks for the right to not pay him doesn't seem like the Kings' MO. While they'd reportedly love to get Rajon Rondo, I don't think they have the pieces to pull that one off. And there are few other openly available players that could be actual difference-makers at a position of need except for Smith.
And from Detroit's perspective, there is a delicate balancing act the team must play. If Stan Van Gundy seriously believes he could rehabilitate Smith's game then this trade would be a pretty significant talent downgrade. And if Monroe still isn't interested in a long-term deal then the team has a pretty sizeable hole at power forward after this season. But even if the team thought that they could turn Smith back into a productive player, you have to ask yourself where the minutes are going to come from.
Van Gundy has indicated that the days of Smith playing small forward are all but over and there just isn't that many backup big man minutes behind Monroe and Andre Drummond. And if Smith plays all of them then the team can't open up playing time for Jerebko at all and he becomes a reasonably productive (and disgruntled) $4.5 million benchwarmer.
We'll see how it all shakes out. Only 38 days until the first preseason game.