VIDEO: Josh Smith comes up big for Houston in Game 7 of the 2015 West semifinals
In the last year, two teams decided they had no use for Josh Smith, except one of them is bringing him back.
After playing for the Rockets last season and then being ignored by them in free agency, where the Clippers signed him, Smith is headed back to Houston.
Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski first reported the Clippers sent Smith to the Rockets virtually for nothing; cash and a second round pick changed hands. The deal saves the Clippers a few bucks in salary cap fees and provides the Rockets … well, nobody is exactly sure what it does for them.
The Rockets confirmed the trade on Friday afternoon and detailed it as follows:
Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey announced today that the team has acquired forward Josh Smith via trade from the Los Angeles Clippers along with the draft rights to forward/center Sergei Lishouk and cash considerations in exchange for the draft rights to forward Maarty Leunen. Smith will wear #5 for Houston.
Several Rockets players were eager for the the team to bring back Smith, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
After losing Smith to the Clippers in free agency in July, his inability to find a role with Los Angeles made him expendable almost immediately.
Smith had regret over leaving the Rockets, where he had found a significant role in the team’s run to the Western Conference Finals last season. Smith signed a one-year deal with the Clippers for the league minimum, but never meshed with coach Doc Rivers.
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.
Smith was solid for Houston last year in the playoffs, coincidently against the Clippers when he helped erase a 3-1 West semifinals hole, but his poor habits and mistakes made the Rockets look the other way in free agency. He signed for the Clippers and the summer haul by Rivers (Smith, Paul Pierce and Lance Stephenson) was economical and expected to be helpful.
But none have made a major impact, and Smith and Stephenson in particular stuck to the bench. Smith averaged only 14 minutes a night in Los Angeles and his playing time didn’t increase even after Blake Griffin went down with a quad injury.
Rivers might make another economical move before next month’s trade deadline to shore up the bench in preparation for the playoffs as Rivers and his players have already stated they’re not good enough to beat the Warriors.
Meanwhile, the Rockets are searching for anything that provide a throwback to last season, when they reached the Western Conference finals, losing in five games. Right now, they’re barely treading water and sit near the bottom of the playoff cutoff point. Don’t be surprised if Rockets GM Daryl Morey is active on the trade market, too.