The Detroit Pistons had high expectations coming into the offseason. They had roughly $20 million to spend and they were ready to make a big move. They were talks of the Pistons “master plan” was to sign free agents Andre Iguodala and Josh Smith and then trade for Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo.
Well, Iguodala signed with the Warriors, it appeared that Boston wasn’t going to trade Rondo to Detroit, and that Smith was going to join Dwight Howard and James Harden in Houston.
Then Joe Dumars gave Smith an offer he couldn’t refuse. Smith verbally agreed to a 4-year $56 million deal with the Pistons on Saturday. All free agent deals can’t be formerly signed until July 10.
Smith averaged 17.5 points, 8.4 rebounds, and 4.2 assists for the Atlanta Hawks this past season, helping the Hawks to a 44-38 record before losing to the Indiana Pacers in six games in the first round. Only LeBron James, Nicolas Batum, Paul Pierce, Kevin Durant, and Evan Turner averaged more assists.
The Pistons are coming off their fifth straight losing season at 29-53 and were looking for a veteran star to join the core of Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond. Smith is a great defender and he’s versatile. He can play the small forward spot with Monroe and Drummond and he can also play power forward when the Pistons go small.
The possibilities are exciting defensively. Smith and Drummond could form one of the best defensive tandems in the NBA. Smith can defend ball handlers on the pick-and-roll, a post up, a man coming off a screen, and everything in between. Drummond will clean up any mistakes that the perimeter defenders make.
This also opens up the possibility of grabbing Rondo. Rondo and Smith are good friends and Rondo may want to go play with Smith in Detroit. It would probably take giving Brandon Knight to get Rondo, but the Pistons would probably try to persuade the Celtics to take Rodney Stuckey and Charlie Villanueva instead.
There are some things that concern me about Smith. He takes too many long 2’s and his 3-point shooting is horrid. He’s never shot even the league average from deep and he’s coming off a season where he shot 30.3% from 3. You have to take the good with the bad.
This was a move that Dumars had to make. Just to get the Pistons back on the map again. A big name free agent actually wants to play in Detroit and maybe he can get his buddy in Boston to demand a trade to the Motor City. I don’t think Detroit is done quite yet. They still have roughly $8 million in cap room left to spend and have been linked to some reports to bring former Piston Chauncey Billups back to Detroit. We’ll see what happens.