Welcome Back Josh Smith! Well kind of.
Finding out via Yahoo Sports the Houston Rockets had reached a deal to reacquire Josh Smith from the Los Angeles Clippers had me pondering his return. It would be a bitter sweet moment when Smith stepped on to the hardwood with Dwight Howard and James Harden for the first time in eight months. While it will be nice to have him back with the Rockets, there is only one question for Smith that remains, Why did he leave in the first place?
Just last summer Smith felt that signing with the Clippers would have given him the best opportunity of winning a championship, than staying with the Rockets. Houston offered Smith a 2.5 million deal last summer, but he elected to take less money and move on to Los Angeles.
Much like his best friend Howard, Smith quickly realized that he would not have a happy Hollywood ending. In half a season with the Clippers, Smith’s numbers have diminished. In 32 games he has averaged a career low 5.7 points, 3.6 rebounds in 14 minutes per game.
After he was thrown away like garbage by the Detroit Pistons, the Rockets gave Smith a chance to revise his career. Last season, Smith played a significant role helping the Rockets reach the Western Conference Finals.
In 55 games, he averaged 12 points, 6 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.2 blocks. Along with Corey Brewer, both he and Smith put together one of the most fierce second units in the league. Smith also led the Rockets’ epic game 6 comeback against the Clippers, after he scored 17 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter.
— Houston Rockets (@HoustonRockets) January 22, 2016
The Rockets gave Smith his best season since leaving the Atlanta Hawks, where he averaged a career high 18.8 points and 9.6 rebounds per game during the 2011-12 season. So when Smith signed with the Clippers in July, it was not only a slap in the face to the Rockets organization, but the city of Houston as a whole.
We believed in Smith when everyone else said his career was over. Yet we watched in despair as he talked about wining a championship with the Los Angeles Clippers.
As Houston reacquired Smith, it is clear that the Rockets are in desperate need of a change for the second half of the season. However, do not expect Josh Smith to have the same impact on the team he did a year ago.
He is still the same inconsistent player who only focuses on his three-point shots, other than improving his free throws. The only contribution he will bring to the Rockets is an upgrade to their defense. Smith is also a solid play maker, but Houston has enough ball distribution problems with Lawson and Harden. Yet, how will J.B. Bickerstaff change the rotation in order to keep his players happy.
Last season, Smith was an upgrade to the Rockets’ power forward position, where he only played behind Terrence Jones. Since the emergence of Clint Capela, and how effective Jones has become with the second unit, it may be more difficult for Smith to find playing time at the four than in Los Angeles.
Of course Smith can still play his original position small forward, but do not expect Bickerstaff to take minutes away from the more consistent Marcus Thornton, nor his old running-mate Corey Brewer. Although they do not play the same position, the addition of Ty Lawson will make it even harder for Smith to find playing time in Houston.
While this may look like a great move for the Rockets, it can also lead to disaster. There are already enough problems in Houston this season, and reacquiring Josh Smith isn’t going to solve anything. So, unless Smith can get his playing time without interfering with his teammates, this trade will become a disaster in Houston.
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