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Report: Pistons would trade Josh Smith if they could

Jan 31, 2014, 7:48 PM EDT

Josh Smith, Brandan Wright

Josh Smith is having the worst season of his career.

Playing far too much small forward, a position he can handle only in select matchups, his defense has really fallen off. Though Smith defends power forwards well, his his lack of speed on the perimeter kills his ability to chase wings around screens. He’s also taking way too many jumpers and not getting inside enough, an issue that exists no matter which forward position he’s playing.

Some of that is Smith fault, and some of that is the Pistons’. But it’s all the Pistons’ problem.

The Pistons signed Smith to a four-year, $54 million contract last summer, and they’ll have to pay him all that money – or find someone else to do it.

Chris Broussard of ESPN:

The Josh Smith experiment in Detroit is not going well, and there’s strong opinion around the league that the Pistons would trade him if they could — and “could” is the key word. Since Smith is in the first year of a four-year, $56 million deal, he is one of the most untradable players in the league.

If the Pistons are desperate to trade Smith, that’s something people around the league would know, because that would mean the Pistons are calling around to shop him.

That would also jive with the Pistons’ reported plan to keep Greg Monroe.

Here are a few Smith trade ideas, from least appealing to most appealing from a Pistons perspective:

Some of those players would make the Pistons a little better, some a little worse. But that’s not the point here. These deals are totally about the contracts.

Gordon would be the most interesting deal of the four. The Pistons actually traded Gordon and a first-round pick to Charlotte to clear the cap room used to sign Smith. The Bobcats could really use a power forward, and Smith would fit relatively well in Charlotte.

But would Dumars so publically admit a mistake? After all, the series of transactions – trading Gordon and a pick for Corey Maggette’s expiring contract, signing Smith, trading Smith for Gordon – would essentially leave the Pistons nothing to show for their troubles except a lost first-round pick.

In a completely logical world, those previous moves wouldn’t matter. They’re sunk costs. If trading Smith for Gordon improves the Pistons’ outlook now, they should do it.

Obviously, it doesn’t always work that way.

But much earlier in his tenure, Dumars’ biggest strength was his ability to admit and fix mistakes.

  • He whiffed on the Mateen Cleaves pick, but sent the former Michigan State point guard to the Kings after just one year for Jon Barry (a strong backup during the Pistons’ resurgance) and a first-round pick that became Carlos Delfino.
  • The next year, Dumars drafted Rodney White, another bust. Again, he traded White after just one year to the Nuggets for a do-over first-rounder – which was eventually part of the Rasheed Wallace trade and, coincidentally, used to select Smith.
  • When Ben Wallace left Detroit, Dumars gave Nazr Mohammed a long contract to replace him. But after just a season-and-a-half with the Pistons, Mohammed was sent to Charlotte for spare parts.

Would Dumars repeat that productive, though self-deprecating. approach here? Would he admit his mistake and dump Smith for simply a shorter contract?

Perhaps the better question: Can he?

  1. jadaruler - Jan 31, 2014 at 8:38 PM

    He would great in Phoenix at his natural 4 spot, but he will think he’s a stretch 4. He could be worth the money if he develops an Oakley baseline jumper and play like a 4, but we all know that won’t happen.

    Time ship Joe out. Too many bad free agency moves. Also you can’t live off the great run that was 5 years ago.

    • ihavenonickname - Jan 31, 2014 at 9:24 PM

      10 years ago?

    • seenable - Jan 31, 2014 at 10:45 PM

      Smith is not and cannot be a stretch anything. He’s a rim protecting 4, nothing more.

  2. hauts81 - Jan 31, 2014 at 8:43 PM

    Smith for Kevin Love. Wolves need a shot blocker.

    • pfic15 - Jan 31, 2014 at 9:35 PM


  3. infitity - Jan 31, 2014 at 9:06 PM

    The problem this writer didn’t touch on wasn’t Smith’s inability to defend small forwards, but Dumars and Cheeks inability to coach and scout free agents. Dumars has no eye for talent, ask Gordon and Charlie V. Who he signed for big bucks and talents evaporated soon after. Smith has been in the NBA long enough that every coach knows his strength and weaknesses. Cheeks is not a good enough coach if he continues to play Smith out of his strength. Dumars should have been fired long ago because of his ineptitude. He constantly hires and fires coaches and keeps his own job???

    Now this story comes out and Josh Smith is the scapegoat. Sad!

  4. cmart0907 - Jan 31, 2014 at 9:28 PM

    Nobody on the Pistons play any type of defense. Joe Dumars congrats on another dumb signing.

  5. dperk123 - Jan 31, 2014 at 9:52 PM

    Smith to the celtics

    • coachjac30 - Feb 1, 2014 at 12:52 AM

      as a Celtics fan I say NO THANK YOU

      • adoombray - Feb 1, 2014 at 11:39 AM

        As a Celtics fan who works near the Garden, you’re really trying to say you’d rather have Gerald Wallace? Every single game you watch him play he has this look on his face like, “oh, right, sometimes I actually play, k, wait where are we at and what happened to my game?”, and every teammate looks at him awkwardly like, “ah crap coach not this terrible player AGAIN” or “dude get that guy off the floor”. Gerald Wallace is also the second most untradable contract in the league right behind Smith, I pull that trigger in a heartbeat

      • coachjac30 - Feb 1, 2014 at 1:45 PM

        I don’t work near the Garden, but I’ll give my thoughts on this anyways.

        Wallace is paid 10/mill per season for 2 more. Smith is paid 14/mill per for 3 more. Bogans’ money comes off the books after this season.
        Smith is best suited to play PF, so you want to play him at PF and stunt the development of Sullinger/Olynyk who are better suited at PF.

        Bringing in Smith would just continue to stunt the rebuild process.

      • adoombray - Feb 2, 2014 at 8:22 PM

        What rebuilding process do we even need? rondo dropped a 19-10 tonight, with 9/11 shooting. Bradley buried it like he usually does when he’s the second banana guard and gets a clear shot. Smith is such a massive upgrade over Jeff Green that I don’t even know why you’d argue against the trade. Jeff Green is either hurt or just playing terribly at least 50-60% of the time. He is not a starting 3. Wallace would be great on the pistons as a reserve who is just happy to be there making money with Green and whatever other option Detroit could come up with at the 3.

        The Celtics are a tough defense Center and a year of seasoning away. What rebuilding is necessary? Rondo is 27 and has 10 years left in his pass first game, Bradley at the 2, Sullinger (who is a starting quality power forward for his toughness and size alone, but also a high percentage shooter) at the 4, one of Brooklyns many draft picks at the 5, and Onlynyk off the bench. (Olynyk is almost like a point-center. he’s a wierd player, but he would rock a a 6th man, at least, is the consensus among the fenway guys and locals I watch the C’s games with).

        The Celtics dont need to rebuild. they are rebuilt. trading Garnett and Pierce was the rebuilding. Ainge accelerated that when he coulda sat on another year or two of those guys and we all woulda packed the Garden. I love Garnett in a Celtics uniform, best ball times ever for me. They are a starting center with one of their gazillion draft picks and a 3 away from a contender (Green will do until that happens as a 4th banana). Trading Rondo would be as foolish as if they traded Pierce when the team was bad. Rondo is our guy, we should stick with him till the end.

      • coachjac30 - Feb 3, 2014 at 3:51 AM

        1st of all, if you take Smith’s contract back you are more than likely going to be paying a luxury tax now, not worth it when you are a lottery team.

        2nd of all, if you are a fan of a Rondo/Bradley starting backcourt moving forward, you have to pay them. Bradley wants a 9 million dollar per season deal this summer, and someone will sign him to that so you have to match it. Rondo is going to require a max deal after next season (which I don’t thin he deserves). So now for the 2015-16 season you are paying 50 million to Olynyk, Sullinger, Rondo, Bradley, Smith. Now add in 6-10 million for a minimum of 2 first rd picks (1 each year) in the next 2 seasons. All of a sudden you are at almost 60 million. The salary cap is about 64million.

        And the most important piece is that Smith is better suited to play PF not SF, so if you trade for him, you are adding salary for a player that would still be playing out of position, that I am betting doesn’t really fit into Brad Stevens’ system.

        If the Celtics are going to try to pry anyone away from Detroit, it has to be Monroe. Offer Green or Wallace and Bass and a late 1st for Monroe and Villanueva.

  6. cefunding1 - Jan 31, 2014 at 9:57 PM

    That Kevin Love trade suggestion is not even right… No way that trade ever happens on the Wolves end. Even if h*** froze over they still wouldn’t do it.

  7. vikesdynasty - Jan 31, 2014 at 9:59 PM

    Man dumars sure sucks.

  8. drubyy1993 - Jan 31, 2014 at 10:39 PM

    Trading smith for love would be like giving someone a 1 dollar bill for an 100 dollar bill

    • 00maltliquor - Feb 1, 2014 at 12:28 AM

      What if that $1 bill had a rare serial number like AB00000001C? Then in that case the 1 would be worth more then the 100.

  9. Eric Chase. - Jan 31, 2014 at 11:00 PM

  10. Eric Chase. - Jan 31, 2014 at 11:00 PM

    So, he’s not playing as smart as last week?

    • Dan Feldman - Feb 1, 2014 at 12:30 AM

      He’s playing mediocre and smarter. Those are not mutually exclusive.

      Imagine if he weren’t playing smarter…

  11. usm418 - Feb 1, 2014 at 12:46 AM

    Monroe to Golden State for Harrison Barnes.Josh goes back to the 4 and the Pistons have a functional roster.Smith’s contract makes it impossible to get an even deal for him.

    • adamsjohn714 - Feb 1, 2014 at 3:27 AM

      You’d have to dump Jennings somewhere to be defined as functional.

  12. coachjac30 - Feb 1, 2014 at 12:54 AM

    For the life of me I don’t understand why Dumars signed him and traded for Jennings. They aren’t going to compete in with the Heat or Pacers to come out of the East, they should have kept Knight, and built around him, Monroe and Drummond. With the right pieces around them, they would have been a few years away from a prolonged run

    • weaselpuppy - Feb 1, 2014 at 4:43 PM

      Because Brandon Knight is terrible. Jennings is just terrible at shooting and defense. That’s an upgrade, though a Pyrrhic one….

      • coachjac30 - Feb 1, 2014 at 4:53 PM

        Sure, if basketball was played 1v1. Its played 5v5, with systems and cap dollars. Keeping Knight at his cost and letting him develop and being able to use the extra money to add pieces around him is far better than what they have with Jennings and Smith.
        Take the money you are spending on Jennings and Smith and use it to sign Monroe long term.

      • weaselpuppy - Feb 1, 2014 at 6:05 PM

        That is a good point. It would make sense if you see Knight as someone who can develop to become a point guard. After watching him for a couple years, it sure doesn’t look like it. He’s Rodney Stuckey w/o the ability to take contact on drives and have an effective to the basket game. I think Joe D decided to go all Dombrowski and flip a young asset for a guy that has more value while taking on contract…Jennings is a multi-year project for sure…and Smith has a longer track record and ingrained habits so I get the Jennings more than I do the Smith signing…

        Jennings actually can play point as a distributor….when he ls not jacking up terrible shots (or playing matador defense). I think the idea was that the ceiling on Jennnings is so much higher, why not let Cheeks work with more raw material.

        The fact that part of both Jennings and Smith playing Very Badly in stretches is due not just to them, but in a minor but significant part to how terrible an in game coach Cheeks is. He drives me crazier than Smith or Jennings.

      • coachjac30 - Feb 3, 2014 at 4:08 AM

        I’m sure Dumars had a plan, and he’s a GM and I am not, so my opinions mean squat, but I just question everything he did last offseason. He could have drafted Burke or MCW (who I’ve watched play since he was a kid and I didn’t expect this from him) instead of KCP and theres your PG if you don’t believe in Knight. (Heck you could have still made the trade for Jennings and played the rookie and Jennings together).

        He then drafted Mitchell in the 2nd rd, a guy who some scouts thought would go as high as late first to the spurs. Now I haven’t seen him play so I don’t know how he’s doing, but I assume he’s a formidable backup at the PF spot. Now you make a smarter decision and realized your roster and determine that Smith isn’t suited for your team.

        I just look at a team of Jennings/Burke/Monroe/Drummond/pick a SF with Stuckey and Billups/Mitchell/Jerekbo/Bynum coming off the bench is better suited for a playoff spot this season (as deemed necessary by the Pistons ownership) and a chance at a conference title within 2-3 years, with seasoning for the young pups.

        I know the development of young players isn’t guaranteed, but the Pistons have potentially set their franchise back 5 years minimum with the moves they made, considering they may lose Monroe. I did hear today on the Celtics’ pre-game that the Pistons are interested in a deal for Rondo, not sure for what and how serious the talks are, but that could be helpful.

  13. doctorofsmuganomics - Feb 1, 2014 at 3:18 AM

    I warned the Pistons against signing him in the first place, but alas nobody ever listens to the doctor

  14. louhudson23 - Feb 1, 2014 at 4:35 AM

    Josh Smith is Josh Smith. Very limited player,who gives a limited effort depending on his mood. This was true in Atlanta,it is true now,and will most likely be true in the next town that is blind to that obvious fact. This is no longer Josh Smith’s fault,but the fault of the teams that pay him,as he made clear long ago that what you see is what you get. Teams not “seeing” clearly falls on the teams,not him.Smith continues to cash his check and live in the fantasy land where he is a quality player with an all around skill set who can do anything and everything on the court….which is true unless by those words you mean a consistent rebounder,defender,shooter,passer….which he is none of…..

  15. johngalt1783 - Feb 1, 2014 at 10:10 AM

    Dumars also traded Amir Johnson for peanuts. One can debate all day long if he would starting ahead of Monroe but even if wasn’t he would come in off he bench as the Pistons first Big off he bench. Given how little Dumars got in return that was one horrible trade.

    Dumars also drafted Darko.

  16. fiyeaglesfiy - Feb 1, 2014 at 11:12 AM

    If they really want to dump him they’d likely have to package an unprotected 1st and potentially a future pick as well. Monroe’s trade value even as a pending free agent is much higher and they can likely get assets back….

  17. Wammy Giveaway - Feb 1, 2014 at 11:33 AM

    What about the Clippers? They missed out on Andrew Bynum. They have bad big men in Ryan Hollins, Antawn Jamison and Byron Mullens. None of the free agents out there are good enough to help the Clippers. Doc Rivers signed Hedo Turkoglu because he has a blockbuster trade in place. Remember that he once traded the farm in 2007 to get two superstars in Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett. If Doc did it once, he’ll do it again.

    Another pre-requisite since Doc’s arrival has been the lack of a championship pedigree. He will only go after those players who have never won a ring before or been to an NBA Finals. Given that Carmelo Anthony to the Clippers is becoming slimmer by the day to the point he may forgo his dream team and just sign with the Bulls or Lakers next season, Josh Smith is a viable idea. Smith to the Clippers could mean Blake Griffin playing out of position as both small forward and backup center for the time being. But with Doc Rivers around, he could make the Paul-Griffin-Jordan-Smith Big 3 work.

    I hope.

  18. angrytwitterguy - Feb 1, 2014 at 3:25 PM

    Love to know where are all the people that thought the Pistons had a good off-season are at right now. Dumars is garbage and how his #4 is retired blows my mind. 1 NBA second team, 2 NBA third team, not a HoF’er but hey, retire his # for that one playoff MVP.

    The Pistons are an embarrassment and I refuse to believe they are in the business of trying to build a winner.

  19. angrytwitterguy - Feb 1, 2014 at 3:31 PM

    Oh and that fat clown did a brilliant job passing on Trey Burke for Caldwell-Pope. Just too obvious a pick so of course he didn’t make it.

  20. weaselpuppy - Feb 1, 2014 at 4:49 PM

    Smith is a very talented guy…he’s just not very bright, overall or basketball IQ wise. I’d do the Okafor deal for sure but I’d like a late 1st out of the 4 Phoenix has with it. Smith’s contract is a overpay, but it’s not like he’s a terrible player, he’s just a terrible fit where he is. He can still run the floor, passes well, is a great weak side blocked shot guy and is tough to stop in the paint. Phoenix is a place he would shine..The Barnes deal is fine too, but the Stones would have to take back salary and it’d have to be a 3 team deal as only Bogut fits the trade that GSW would even consider, which they probably don’t.

  21. jimsjam33 - Feb 1, 2014 at 7:54 PM

    Remember Chauncey Billups . Just another bust that Dumars insisted was going to bring back the Pistons to the glory days .

  22. shanelsweet - Feb 1, 2014 at 10:38 PM

    I’m amazed that folks really think that Okafor’s expiring deal is somehow worth Josh Smith now when it was worth less than Marcin Gortat just a few months ago. Of course, I’m always amazed when average fans seem to car more about saving their owner’s money than watching a pretty good player like Smith.

  23. BrownsTown - Feb 2, 2014 at 1:39 AM

    “Jive with….”

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