Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Detroit firing Maurice Cheeks probably has a lot to do with his failure to get the most out of Josh Smith. The two butted heads quite a bit this season, and Smith never really shied away from airing out his frustrations in the media. Here's what Smith told J. Michael of CSNWashington.com after he was benched for an entire second half earlier in the season:
To me it is over with. But you know some people hold grudges longer than others. I don’t know. I’m not saying he does. I’m not the type of person that really likes to go all the time in coach’s office and have a one-on-one sitdown. I’m more of a team morale guy.
We know how that sort of thing works. When a coach comes up against a player who just signed a contract worth $54 million, it's easy to guess who will win out. Cheeks probably needed to go for reasons separate of his dealings with Smith, but surely it didn't help his cause.
Does that mean Detroit should stick with Smith, though? He's been a huge bust this year with a career-low 46.6 true shooting percentage and PER of 15.2, and his defense is worse than it has ever been. Smith certainly hasn't lived up to his contract in the least bit, and it's yet unseen whether he will under a new coach or not.
It's not out of the question that Dumars would be willing to pull the plug on the Smith experiment and deal him if it was at all possible, according to ESPN.com's Chris Broussard:
The Josh Smith experiment in Detroit is not going well, and there’s strong opinion around the league that the Pistons would trade him if they could — and “could” is the key word. Since Smith is in the first year of a four-year, $56 million deal, he is one of the most untradable players in the league.
Smith's contract will make him tough to deal, but it's not impossible, so long as Detroit is willing to accept much less than full value in return.
That being said, trading Smith seems like a move Dumars' successor would make to clear the books and start a rebuilding process and not something Dumars would do in the final year of his contract when he wants the Pistons to make the playoffs.