Dec 29, 2013, 8:00 AM EDT
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.
Oct 30, 2014, 1:15 PM EDT
It was a good night to be a Hornets fan.
Oct 30, 2014, 12:45 PM EDT
Bulls center has discussed Phil Jackson with his younger brother
Oct 30, 2014, 11:55 AM EDT
Gasol was dominant opening night, and Derrick Rose is thrilled to finally have some help.
Oct 30, 2014, 11:26 AM EDT
Awesome block by Buck
Oct 30, 2014, 10:51 AM EDT
Warriors shooting guard met starter criteria in game against Kings
Oct 30, 2014, 10:09 AM EDT
They wouldn’t be the Suns and Timberwolves, would they?
Oct 30, 2014, 9:30 AM EDT
Celtics point guard photographed in T station
Old tweets: Kevin Durant uses gay slurs (including at Russell Westbrook), Damian Lillard rips LeBron James
Oct 30, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT
Oct 30, 2014, 8:30 AM EDT
Rough first night in the NBA to be guarded by Tony Allen.
Oct 30, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT
New owner could recoup money over next 15 years
Oct 30, 2014, 2:45 AM EDT
Good night to be the Trail Blazers. Not so much for Kobe Bryant.
Oct 30, 2014, 12:27 AM EDT
Boston tops Brooklyn, 121-105
Oct 29, 2014, 11:57 PM EDT
Taj Gibson and the second unit took control of this one.
Oct 29, 2014, 11:13 PM EDT
While the Lakers were flirting with ‘Melo, the Suns came knocking for Thomas.
Oct 29, 2014, 10:35 PM EDT
The pride of Long Beach State.
Oct 29, 2014, 9:51 PM EDT
Hornets point guard hits game-winning jumper in overtime against Bucks
Oct 29, 2014, 9:36 PM EDT
Charlotte makes large comeback
Oct 29, 2014, 9:15 PM EDT
Oct 29, 2014, 8:33 PM EDT
Barea helped Dallas win 2011 championship, but how much does he have left in the tank?
Oct 29, 2014, 7:55 PM EDT
Young Tom Brady dressed as a Celtic
- Dominant Pau Gasol shows he may be a perfect fit for Bulls 4
- Old tweets: Kevin Durant uses gay slurs (including at Russell Westbrook), Damian Lillard rips LeBron James 18
- Wednesday night’s NBA winners, losers: Chris Bosh wants you to know he is a No. 1 option 20
- Rajon Rondo leads Celtics to rout of Nets. How much does it mean? 8
- Bulls cruise to 24-point opening night win over Knicks 16
- Lakers’ rookie Julius Randle has surgery to repair fractured tibia, out for season 16
- Anthony Davis has zero chance of winning MVP this season 38
- Dwight Howard says he wants to move on from Kobe, Lakers. Actions show feud going strong. 50