Can lightning strike twice?
Well it looks like the first major trade of the new year will belong to the Houston Rockets and the rumor is Josh Smith is coming back to H-Town and the Clippers are actually paying for it to happen.
According to the man who breaks all major trades (Adrian Wojnarowski) the Rockets will send some Maarty Leunen‘s draft rights. Leunen is a 6’9″, 220 pound, 30 year old forward who Houston drafted 54th in 2008.
The real value for the Clippers would be the money they’ll save in salary and potentially the change to the chemistry of the team whom Smith never gelled with.
The Clippers had considered waiving Smith, league sources said. The trade allows them to save $2 million in luxury tax. – Wojnarowski
Yahoo Sources: Clippers trade Josh Smith back to the Houston Rockets. https://t.co/LpUnreExdR
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) January 22, 2016
More from Wajnarowski:
The Clippers will send cash to cover the remaining $460,000 on Smith’s $1.4 million minimum salary this season and the draft rights to Sergei Lishouk. Houston sends the Clippers the rights to Maarty Leunen. Neither player is expected to play in the NBA.-Wojnarowski
Many have wondered why Josh Smith took the position with the Clippers this summer. He initially felt he would get more opportunity in LA which has been far from the case. The writing was on the wall especially recently with Blake Griffin out injured and Smith getting DNP Coaches Decisions. This season Smith has posted averages of 5.7 points and 3.9 rebounds in almost half the playing time he received in Houston.
Earlier this season Smith was seemingly blamed for the chemistry issue in LA getting into a shouting match with an Assistant Coach and since that time his minutes have waned. Wojnarowski is now saying the coach he was having issues with was none other than head coach Doc Rivers.
Conversely, last season in 55 games Smith averaged 12 points, 6 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.2 blocks close to a steal and 1.1 three pointers. With uncertainty surrounding Donatas Motiejunas back injury and how long he’ll be out Smith could fit perfectly back into the rotations given the solid chemistry that previously existed with basically the same team he played with last season.
To wit, it seemed last year that Smith was perfectly suited to his new team and his chemistry with friend Dwight Howard was palpable. Since the Rockets have the opening on the roster and he fits with Howard and the team which remains largely unchanged, we’ll hope he can find that magic chemistry from last season. Something along these lines would be nice:
Even more memorable was the Game 6 comeback versus the team trading him back to Houston last season which Smith was a main participant in. Aside from Smith’s great chemistry with Howard, he often worked well with Corey Brewer, so perhaps his return can spark Brewer’s productivity as well.
While Smith may have regressed dramatically just the reminder of having someone like him on the bench who orchestrated that incredible come back last year is sure to add confidence to the Rockets squad.
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