Column RICK SOLEM
The Detroit Pistons cut Josh Smith on Monday.
There’s reason to care – or at least feel somewhat good about pro sports – even if you’re not an NBA fan.
It’s a refreshing to see the word ‘team’ become
more important in a professional sporting world where money and stats usually reign supreme. And Smith has the numbers (and money). He’s an athletic freak, but also a team cancer.
So, Detroit essentially said, “Here’s the $30 million we owe you, take it and leave. You’re so bad at this team sport called basketball, that we’ll be better without you.”
For the record, he’s owed $34 million through the 2016-17 season.
A casual NBA fan would see his 13.1 points, 7.2 rebounds, 4.7 assists, 1.7 blocks and 1.3 steals and wonder what the … ? In baseball, you’d call Smith a five-tool player. In basketball, you’d simply call him a tool.
He’s a stat whore, out to get his. And that’s where the refreshing ‘team’ aspect comes in and why we should praise Detroit for dumping him, all while it wished him well as he walked out the door (see GM/coach Stan Van Gundy’s comments here).
Smith is what you’d call a ball-stopper. He likes to hold the ball like a baby. Well, hold the baby, then throw it at the hoop. Literally. OK, almost literally. He’s not literally throwing babies. That’d really give Detroit a reason to cut him.
Enough about babies. Smith is simply George Costanza. He’s a chucker.
He’s shooting 39.1 percent from the field and 24.3 percent from beyond the arc. So, yeah, he’s pretty much throwing the basketball at the hoop. And, in his decade in the NBA, nobody has been able to get him to stop shooting.
Unlike Costanza, Smith should know he’s a chucker. It’d be a wonderful thing if someone would just ask him what he’s thinking when he shoots a 3-pointer or, his patented, 18-foot jumper five seconds into the shot clock.
Every year for a decade was supposed to be the year Smith stopped shooting 3s and just played at the rim. Every year, Smith remains a chucker.
Nothing changed this season. It was supposed to be different with Van Gundy getting through to him. Nope. The Pistons are off to a 5-23 start and the “gotta get mine” attitude festers.
Smith didn’t really fit on the Pistons. But a 6-foot-8, jump-shooting power forward who can’t shoot doesn’t really fit on any team. A 6-8 beast that boards, blocks and simply shoots layups and dunks would destroy the league. Good luck, team that picks him up. I’m guessing only San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich could possibly get him to actually play basketball.
Regardless, the Pistons said good bye and good riddance. It is, quite awesome.
Now, if they only could tell former Milwaukee Bucks point guard, Brandon Jennings, to stop shooting – or show him the door – then watch the wins start rolling in. They’re 5-23 right now.
Jennings, who was sent to Detroit in a sign-and-trade for Brandon Knight in the steal of the century, then signed a three-year, $24 million contract, is shooting 36.8 percent from the field – 28.1 percent the last 30 days. Probably because he does stuff like this …