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Report: Stan Van Gundy tells Josh Smith, barring unexpected trade, forward will start season with Pistons

Jul 21, 2014, 2:44 PM EST

Josh Smith, Marvin Williams Josh Smith, Marvin Williams

The Pistons and Kings discussed a trade involving Josh Smith, but it went nowhere.

Then they discussed a Smith trade again, and again, it went nowhere.

It seemed these repeated negotiations reflected new Detroit president/coach Stan Van Gundy’s desire to clear up his frontcourt, which included Smith, Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe as starters last season. Van Gundy has repeatedly indicated that trio didn’t work together – something already evident to anyone who watched the team last year beyond Maurice Cheeks, John Loyer or whoever was in charge of the lineup.

But Van Gundy’s plan for change might not involve Smith, whom Sacramento apparently just coveted that badly.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

Detroit Pistons president and coach Stan Van Gundy reached out to forward Josh Smith to tell him that reports of the franchise engaging in substantive trade talks with Sacramento centered on Smith have been inaccurate and – barring an unexpected turn of events – Smith will be in training camp with the Pistons this fall, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

Sacramento had made calls about Smith in June, but Detroit never heard an offer that remotely interested them and never seriously engaged in discussions, sources told Yahoo Sports.

Since his hiring in the spring, Van Gundy has had productive discussions with Smith and sources say that Smith has been enthusiastic about moving forward with Van Gundy as coach.

Monroe is a restricted free agent, and indications are Van Gundy would match any offer for the big manthough Monroe might not be eager to share a team with Smith again. I would definitely match any offer for Monroe with the intention of starting him and Drummond together in the frontcourt.

So what about Smith?

Smith is far superior to any backup the Pistons have. But he surely knows that too. I’m not convinced he’d be content – and undisruptive – coming off the bench.

Personally, I’d just trade Smith for Sacramento’s spare parts (Jason Thompson and Derrick Williams or Jason Terry) and gain the salary flexibility. One season of Smith in Detroit turned toxic regardless of who was at fault, and I wouldn’t risk a second.

Van Gundy seems to believe he can rehabilitate Smith’s value, and there’s certainly that potential. But that will require either losing Monroe or treading carefully with Smith’s feelings for a full season.

The Pistons shouldn’t drop Monroe without full value in a sign-and-trade, and I don’t trust the sometimes-abrasive Van Gundy to handle Smith gently for that long.

But if a Smith trade happens, it sounds as if it won’t be with the Kings. I can’t imagine other teams are lining up to deal for the final three years and $40.5 million remaining on Smith’s contract.

That’s why you should expect him in Detroit’s training camp.

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