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Josh Smith takes ‘real offense’ to Maurice Cheeks benching him

Dec 29, 2013, 8:00 AM EDT

Josh Smith

When Maurice Cheeks removed Josh Smith from the starting lineup for missing a practice – called at the last moment, for the day following a back-to-back, after Smith had decided to stay in Atlanta to tend to his ill father – Smith bit his tongue.

But now that Cheeks benched Smith for the entire second half of the Pistons’ 106-82 loss to the Wizards on Saturday, Smith isn’t remaining quiet.

Smith, via David Mayo of MLive:

“It’s an honor for me to play, you know what I’m saying?  So when anybody challenges — or anything about the fact that, you know, about me not wanting to play — then I take real offense to it,” Smith said.

Smith shouldn’t feel offended. He played lousy in the first half, scoring four points on seven shots – a night after the Pistons slumbered through a blowout loss to the lowly Magic.

But he should feel singled out.

Every Detroit player struggled against Washington. Smith didn’t strike me as any worse than his teammates. And though starter Kentavious Caldwell-Pope also began the second half on the bench, he eventually returned to the court. Smith never did.

It’s not clear why Cheeks chose Smith to bench, but the coach at least considered going further. Mayo:

He admitted he would have liked to bench the entire starting five to begin the second half.”If I could have, yeah,” Cheeks said, when asked that question.  “The way the first half went, yeah.  But the way the first half went, I really couldn’t.”

Why didn’t Cheeks just bench everyone? Especially after the Orlando loss, nobody would have claimed the starters didn’t have it coming.

If there were a reason to single out Smith, the team’s highest-paid player, it’s because he once singled himself out as the model for game-day focus. Smith after a November loss, via Mayo:

“When I prepare for a game, it starts during shootaround,” Smith said after the Pistons let a six-point halftime lead get away.  “And I think everybody needs to have that same mentality.”

Yet, Smith reached the Verizon Center just 82 minutes before Sunday’s game, according Kyle Weidie of TruthAboutIt.net:

Is that enough time for Smith (and Chauncey Billups, Charlie Villanueva and Will Bynum) to prepare for a game? Maybe, but that late arrival does not set a good example for the same teammates he previously chided for not following his lead.

If Smith and Cheeks aren’t an impasse, they’re heading toward one. Will either change their ways?

Smith, via J. Michael of CSN Washington:

“I’m an aggressive person. I’m not passive. So maybe a passive person that takes life that way won’t understand an aggressive person. I really can’t worry about what people perceive of me because they don’t know me on a day-to-day basis so I’m really not concerned about what people perceive about me at all.”

“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.”

Cheeks has frequently defended his laid-back demeanor, saying he’s not going change his personality to conform to anyone’s view of what a coach should be. And good for him. But he has to find a way to meet Smith in the middle. Previously, Cheeks has. Smith returned to the starting lineup one game after the Atlanta incident. Cheeks has also tried to push Smith into more post-ups offensively and blamed his own scheme when Smith drifts to the perimeter. But this incident goes beyond those more-minor disputes. The Pistons have fired coaches and shed players in an effort to build a more harmonious team. It clearly hasn’t completely worked.If there’s any solace for the Pistons in this situation, Smith has a long history of battling coaches, and Cheeks has even more experience sparring with players. These two know the terrain.And yet they’ve both avoided the big blowup that destroys teams. I doubt this flare-up will even challenge to blemish that perfect record.

  1. whoisrdymlz - Dec 29, 2013 at 9:26 AM

    He got benched because he’s not that good.

    • mannyicey - Dec 29, 2013 at 10:30 AM

      Wow, whoisrdymiz- That was fantastic insight! I mean, the complexity of the entire issue was just systematically illustrated through your post. All of that, coupled with the humor and dramatic effects made your post unpredictable and intriguing!

      You must write for a living. “He got benched because he’s not that good” is the best piece of writing since the famous Ralphie Parker essay of 1983. Classic! Congratulations!

    • pbtunpaidwriter - Dec 29, 2013 at 5:15 PM

      Smith has to just stick to what he;s good at. He has no mid range game, shoots way too many 3s which he can’t make at a high enough clip, and doesn’t play smart.

      He’s very good defensively, good passer, and good at finishing. He should develop a post game but probably wont at this point.

  2. spursareold - Dec 29, 2013 at 10:43 AM

    The Pistons are attempting to build a harmonious team……by signing Josh Smith? He’s been pretty much a cancer his whole career.

  3. louhudson23 - Dec 29, 2013 at 11:08 AM

    Coaches coach,players play and dogging bums sit….at least for a half….

  4. brotherlove2012 - Dec 29, 2013 at 11:13 AM

    Josh Smith is uncoachable, he plays for himself and doesn’t even try to adhere to any system presented to him. He’s one of the best example of a team cancer you could find in the NBA.

  5. philliesblow - Dec 29, 2013 at 11:22 AM

    I take “real offense” to Josh Smith shooting 3 pointers.

  6. pfic15 - Dec 29, 2013 at 11:26 AM

    Detroit. Lol. May better days await.

  7. edwardemanuelson - Dec 29, 2013 at 11:26 AM

    Well get used to this situation, Josh. You took a payday and locked yourself up for 4 or 5 seasons?

  8. metrocritical - Dec 29, 2013 at 2:23 PM

    Whoever is responsible for signing Josh Smith and hiring Mo Cheeks ought to be benched. Permanently.

  9. 00maltliquor - Dec 29, 2013 at 3:24 PM

    That’s a messed up move by Cheeks. Scheduling a last minute practice after a back-to-back and not giving Josh leeway to tend to his ill father. There will be plenty more basketball games. You only have one father. Unless your a Collins kid, but still, you typically only have one father. Family over practice.

    • oldschoolnflman - Dec 30, 2013 at 3:19 AM

      I’m glad the league let Collinsdesign the cChristmas day jerseys. That was a pretty stand up move .

  10. irvfin3 - Dec 29, 2013 at 4:19 PM

    Mo Cheeks SUCKS! They should have hired Lionel Hollins idiotic Pistons!

  11. obmig - Dec 29, 2013 at 5:45 PM

    It’s an honor to jog between 3 point lines during the game instead of going down low where you can actually help your team? Maybe he should just outright question his brain instead of his desire.

  12. bigkurt6 - Dec 29, 2013 at 8:06 PM

    This sounds like Tyrus Thomas Jr.

  13. florida727 - Dec 30, 2013 at 3:27 PM

    When you accept a big contract, your highlights are shown on cable. When your highlights are shown on cable, your ego grows. When your ego grows, you think the rules don’t apply to you. When you think the rules don’t apply to you, you skip practice. When you skip practice, your stupidity is revealed to the sporting world. Don’t let your stupidity be revealed to the sporting world. Get rid of cable. And upgrade to Direct TV.

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