Josh Smith to Rockets: Latest Trade Details, Comments and Reaction

Alec Nathan@@AlecBNathanFeatured ColumnistJanuary 22, 2016

Los Angeles Clippers forward Josh Smith (5) faces the Denver Nuggets in the first half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2015, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
David Zalubowski/Associated Press

The Los Angeles Clippers made a bevy of offseason moves to bolster their depth in advance of a presumed NBA title run, but the team parted ways with one of its key signings Friday when it dealt Josh Smith to the Houston Rockets.

Adrian Wojnarowski of the Vertical first reported the news, and Calvin Watkins of ESPN.com confirmed the report.

"Very good, great teammate, just didn't work," Clippers head coach Doc Rivers explained, per Charlie Widdoes of NYKnicks.com. "We decided to go with [Cole Aldrich]."

In December, Yahoo Sports' Marc Spears reported the Clippers were gauging trade interest in Smith, but that few teams appeared motivated to try to deal for the combo-forward.

Wojnarowski noted the Clippers sent Houston the draft rights to Sergei Lishouk, while the Rockets traded the draft rights to Maarty Leunen to Los Angeles.

Mark Berman of Fox 26 provided reaction from Smith on the move: "I'm excited. I feel great. It's a place that I probably should have never left."

Smith averaged 5.7 points, 3.9 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game while shooting 38.3 percent from the field in Hollywood.

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While Smith, 30, was previously stigmatized as an inefficient shooter, he reformed his image after the Detroit Pistons waived him 28 games into the 2014-15 season. The Rockets proceeded to sign Smith, and his production turned a corner.

Not only was Smith afforded space on the perimeter in Houston's offense, but the Rockets' run-and-gun approach masked some of his inefficient tendencies. Smith also established himself as a solid complementary distributor alongside James Harden.

Josh Smith's 2014-15 Shot Chart With Houston
Josh Smith's 2014-15 Shot Chart With HoustonCredit: NBA.com/Stats

In 55 regular-season appearances with the Rockets, Smith averaged 12 points, six rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.2 blocks and drilled a respectable 33 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc.

During a playoff run that included a second-round defeat of the Clippers, Smith averaged 13.5 points, 5.6 rebounds and 2.7 assists and nudged his long-range conversion rate up to 38 percent.

Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated pointed out while the move is a good one, it's not a fix-all for the Rockets or Smith:

Chris Mannix @ChrisMannixYS

Houston one of the few, perhaps the only, team that made sense for Josh Smith. Won't solve all Rox problems, but he fit in well last year.

Smith's career has been loaded with ups and downs, but it's become clear over the past few years he's capable of thriving in a specialized rotational role. While he didn't experience success with the Clippers, he's a low-risk acquisition at this stage in his career.

Now, it's on Smith to try to boost his stock once and for all as he gets set to re-enter free agency in the summer. Although his earning potential is limited because the Pistons owe him $5.4 million annually through 2020 via the stretch provision, Smith has a chance to nab some long-term security with a nice finish to the season.

Salary information courtesy of BasketballInsiders.com. Stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com.

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