Having unsuccessfully tried to pry Josh Smith from the Detroit Pistons for months, the Kings now can make their pitch directly to him.
The Pistons waived Smith on Monday, parting ways with a player who has two years left after this season on his four-year, $54 million contract.
Smith is a favorite of Kings principal owner Vivek Ranadive, and the Kings tried to entice the Pistons with players like Jason Thompson, Derrick Williams and Carl Landry.
Rather than take what the Kings had to offer, the Pistons cut ties with Smith.
“We are shifting priorities to aggressively develop our younger players while also expanding the roles of other players in the current rotation to improve performance and build for our future,” Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said in a statement. “As we expand certain roles, others will be reduced. In fairness to Josh, being a highly versatile 10-year veteran in this league, we feel it’s best to give him his freedom to move forward. We have full respect for Josh as a player and a person.”
Smith is one of the league’s more talented players but has been criticized for settling for three-point shots instead of using his athleticism.
The 6-foot-9, 225-pounder would play power forward for the Kings. Skeptics wonder how a front line of Smith, DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay would function on offense.
Gay came to the Kings with a reputation as an inefficient player, which is what Smith is known for being, too.
If Smith clears waivers, the Kings would not be his only suitors. ESPN reported Houston and Dallas, two contending teams, want Smith.
The Kings could offer a starting job but pay Smith only the veteran’s minimum of about $1.4 million.
Smith will be paid the prorated difference in salary this season.
Houston still has its bi-annual exception (worth $2.1 million), and the Rockets would give Smith a chance to play with James Harden and Dwight Howard.
Smith likely would be a reserve in Dallas for the veteran’s minimum, but joining the Mavericks would put him in a position to contend for the NBA title.
Smith is averaging 13.0 points, 7.2 rebounds and 4.7 assists this season, but his shooting has been bad in all areas.
He is shooting 39.0 percent from the field, 24.3 percent from three-point range and 46.8 percent from the free-throw line.
Karl says hello – There is no guarantee that Tyrone Corbin will coach the Kings for the rest of the season.
Perhaps the most popular coach available is George Karl. Fans have brought signs to games urging management to hire Karl, who acknowledged Kings fans on Twitter:
“I want to thank all of the @SacramentoKings fans & supporters for the very kind messages. It has not gone unnoticed.”
Karl worked with Kings general manager Pete D’Alessandro and assistant general manager Mike Bratz while coaching the Denver Nuggets.