Josh Smith agreed to a 4 year, $56 million deal with the Detroit Pistons yesterday. For the life of me, I can’t figure out why Detroit would make this move. Smith is a pretty good, sometimes really good player but he doesn’t really fit with the Pistons current roster, at all.
Detroit’s best two players last year were young big men, Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe. The reports of the deal suggest that Smith will likely start alongside those two players, with guards Brandon Knight and the recently drafted Kentavious-Caldwell Pope rounding out the Pistons’ starting unit. Drummond and Greg Monroe are both players who want to operate close to the basket, and Josh Smith, when he’s at his best, is a player who operates near the basket. Josh’s problem, and the biggest problem with this signing, is that Josh Smith does not love to operate near the basket. What Josh Smith really loves are jump shots. But sadly for Josh, jump shots do not love him back. Josh fancies himself more of a swing man than his size and skill-set would suggest is wise.
Unfortunately for the Pistons, and fans who would like to see J-Smoove reach his peak effectiveness, playing Smith alongside Monroe and Drummond will do nothing to dissuade him from floating more and more around the perimeter, likely tempting him to take more and more of the jumpers that, try as he might, Josh just can’t make. In a vacuum, Smith is worth right around what the Pistons have committed to him over the next 4 years. But Smith will not be playing in a vacuum, he will be playing with Monroe and Drummond and barring a, likely unwise, trade of one of their young, promising, cheap (!) big men, the Pistons figure to have serious spacing issues for their foreseeable future. Piston’s President of Basketball Operations, Joe Dumars has created a mess for himself when there were likely much more prudent options available. He’s improved the overall talent of his club, there’s no doubting that, but it’s hard to see how that translates to winning more games when the talent now fits together so poorly. It could be that Dumars just believes in grabbing talent when it’s available for a team that was so bad last season, but I can’t help but thinking patience should have won the day here. Ah well. As a Bulls loyalist I say, you take those jumpers, Josh Smith. You take them as much as your heart desires.