"Money to spend" should not result in "money wasted."
That's the situation the Detroit Pistons will find themselves in if they sign free agent Josh Smith this summer, which, according to Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski and Marc J. Spears, is reportedly a legitimate possibility:
After Josh Smith's meeting w/ Detroit GM Joe Dumars, source close to Smith tells Y!: "Good, productive talks. Intriguing to say the least."— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 1, 2013
Hawks free agent F Josh Smith had a "productive meeting" with the Pistons for over five hours, a source told Yahoo!, but no offer was made.— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) July 1, 2013
"No offer was made." Joe Dumars would be wise to keep it that way.
Let's not get carried away. Smith is an explosive player capable of positively affecting the game in a multitude of ways.
Blessed with an unbelievable blend of size (6'9", 225 pounds with a 7'0" wingspan) and trampoline-like leaping ability, he is an electric playmaker on defense who can guard several different positions.
Last season, he averaged 1.8 blocks and 1.2 steals per contest, just down from his nine-year career averages of 2.1 and 1.3, respectively.
But there's a little problem. The Pistons don't need him.
Holding down the two post positions for presumably a very long time in Motown will be Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond.
Last season, Monroe didn't quite take the leap forward many were expecting after an encouraging sophomore campaign, but he still ended the season with 16.0 points, 9.6 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.3 steals and 0.7 blocks per contest.
At 23, he is one of the most promising offensive big men in the league.
Drummond, meanwhile, compiled averages of 7.9 points, 7.6 rebounds, 1.0 steals and 1.6 blocks per game in his rookie season.
Pretty solid numbers on the surface, but when you consider he averaged just 20.7 minutes per contest, they are quite staggering. On a per-36 minute basis, those numbers rocket up to 13.8 points, 13.2 rebounds, 1.7 steals and 2.8 blocks.
While Monroe has the potential to be an offensive stud, the 19-year-old Drummond could very quickly establish himself as the elite defensive center in the Association.
Although both played the majority of their time at center last season, Monroe is capable of playing the 4 and allowing the Pistons to dole out as much time as possible to the duo.
Should the Pistons be going after Josh Smith?
And when you have one of the most tantalizing young frontcourt tandems in the league, you have to give them minutes and let them develop. No more 20.7 per game for Drummond.
Which brings us back to the original question. Where does Smith fit in?
The problem, however, is his offensive game.
Putting Smith at the 3 only encourages him to utilize the perimeter, and when that happens, he tends to be anemic.
In 2009-10, the athletic power forward attempted seven three-pointers all year. He averaged just 15.7 points per contest, but shot a career-high 50.5 percent from the field and enjoyed career-highs in effective field-goal percentage and offensive rating, as well.
Every year since, however, he has jacked up more jump shots and become less and less efficient:
For Smith to be truly effective, he has to limit jumpers and get more looks moving towards the basket, where he can take advantage of his athleticism:
Putting him at the 3, where he doesn't have the quickness to beat opposing small forwards off the dribble and won't be involved in as many post ups or pick-and-rolls, doesn't do that.
And if Smith isn't playing at his own maximum effectiveness, he won't be worth the gargantuan contract he will undoubtedly command.
Being frugal doesn't always pay. Overspending helps win games if it's the right move, and the Pistons, with just $34 million on the books for 2013-14, have the money to overspend.
But Josh Smith isn't the player to overspend on. Although he is talented and extremely fun to watch, he simply doesn't cater to Detroit's specific needs.