Now that the Sacramento Kings have dealt with one potentially high-priced player, they have returned to a move that they seemed to abandon not too long ago.
According to multiple reports, the Kings have re-opened trade talks for embattled Detroit Pistons PF Josh Smith. Initially discussed in late June, the front office for Sacramento – particularly head coach Michael Malone – have been targeting Smith for quite some time. At this point, there is no trade imminent, though Detroit may be willing to deal the big man away for proper compensation. Reports say that the two sides are looking for a third team to facilitate a proper trade.
Now, many can understand why the Pistons would be willing to trade away a talented big man like Smith after only one year with the team – after all, Detroit has received a massive overhaul in team personnel and philosophy since Smith arrived. That, coupled with his propensity to shoot from outside the arc with little success, made Smith fall out of favor in the Motor City. His giant contract, in which he is still owed $40.5 million over the next three years, is also something the Pistons would like to get out from under.
With all that said, why would the Kings want this guy? After all, he got done with Detroit in 2013-2014 with his worst career numbers in Player Efficiency Rating (14.3) and true shooting percentage (46.3). And, as one Bleacher Report columnist said, the Kings front office shouldn’t be trying to rush into bad deals in order to fast-track a playoff team – no matter how much they think the fanbase deserves one.
Well, if you remember an article I wrote before my latest hiatus, the same questions were asked of the new regime about the acquisition of another high-priced player who seemingly was a bad investment – not only because of the tens of millions owed to him, but because of the recent track record he had with awful play.
Now, look at him – Rudy Gay was rewarded with the $19 million option for his exceptional play with the Kings last year – particularly, his career highs in points per game (20.1), field goal percentage (48.2), and assists (3.1) in 55 games with Sacramento.
With that in mind, let’s look at the upside to a potential acquisition of the 28-year-old:
1) Despite shot selection issues, it doesn’t look like his inside game has regressed significantly. The fact is, Josh Smith is still considered a talented player that can stretch the floor, provide additional defense and give the Kings the kind of inside presence, offensively, that they haven’t seen in quite awhile. And, if he can get onboard with Malone’s offensive game plan – one that will likely not use him anywhere near the outside of the three-point arc – the terrible 3-point shooting percentage issues he experienced in Detroit will not be an issue.
2) Another change in venue – and a more stable organizational situation – could help Smith in the long run. Getting such a big contract in Detroit, and being viewed as a potential franchise player that could turn fortunes around for the motor city, may not have been the best spot for Josh Smith to put himself in. It’s hard to say that he was ever “The Man” during his successful years in Atlanta, and those expectations put upon him in Detroit likely contributed to the poor play he suffered through last season. Now, with a new regime in Detroit that doesn’t seem to want him anymore, he would essentially be getting a fresh start – with an established franchise big man already in place, in the form of DeMarcus Cousins – if he was traded to Sacramento. That could help see him bringing the kind of production he enjoyed back in the confines of Philips Arena. After all, it seemed to help for Gay, right?
3) If all goes well, his presence might help in the potential acquisition of another big-name talent at point guard. While it seems like a long shot, the fact cannot be ignored: Josh Smith has long had a close friendship with Boston Celtics PG Rajon Rondo. And, with the point guard position still a huge question mark for a team who featured talents like Jason Williams, Mike Bibby, Bobby Jackson, and, yes, even recently-departed-for-Phoenix Isaiah Thomas, the potential of landing an All-Star like Rondo in another trade could propel this young team to heights previously unseen in almost a decade.
Whether this happens or not, I don’t fault the Kings organization for trying to make a big splash – despite what some may think over how misguided it may be. The fact is, it’s not the worst thing in the world to pick up a big man like Smith, especially if it means trading away a slew of bad contracts in the process. I, personally, would welcome a core frontcourt of Cousins, Gay and Smith – especially if Malone can get the three to gel to a point where the Kings could start winning games.