Yes, Houston Rockets fans, we’re right at the summit of free agency activity this off season!
As the dominoes continue to fall on all of the top-tier free agents, signing the integral pieces to the Rockets successful recipe of a team that fell a couple of games short of the NBA Finals has become a reality.
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But there’s just one piece that still hasn’t been settled yet.
As free agents continue to get locked up, J-Smoove continues to be on the outside looking in, wondering if he’ll be a Rocket next season.
And there’s a new development…
Add the Los Angeles Clippers in addition to the Sacramento Kings as teams that have interest in his services.
ESPN’s Ramona Shelbourne reported this information yesterday evening:
Smith, an unrestricted free agent, has also had talks with the Kings but has preferred to make a return to the Rockets, his obvious biggest chance at being on a top-contending team.
Space City Scoop
Hoops Rumors’ Dana Gauruder reports that the Clippers are over the approximate $67.1 million cap at $68.1 million even with DeAndre Jordan heading for greener pastures but they can squeeze Smith in with the rest of their mid-level exception money.
They have approximately $2.1 million left in MLE money after getting a verbal commitment from veteran gunslinger Paul Pierce.
But for all intents and purposes, the Rockets can still offer Smith slightly more ($2.5 million) with a more defined role with a prospective outlook that is a lot more certain.
Keep in mind that Smith’s four-year, $54 million guaranteed contract with the Detroit Pistons is still in play as the remainder of it will be in the form of annuity payments of $5.4 million per through the 2019-20 season using the stretch provision.
That $5.4 million figure will slightly fluctuate as the terms of that said provision will be partially offset depending on how much he’d make with the Rockets or any other potential suitors.
The fact that the Rockets have not done anything yet with Smith signals that they’re looking at other trade options and Smith isn’t as high of a priority as we think.
I previously wrote about the fact that the Rockets plan to use their MLE on McDaniels not Smith at this juncture.
The Rockets did extended their $2.5 million qualifying offer to Smith as a formality but now the ball is in his court to decide if he should take the money and run or take a discount to stay with a winner and play alongside his longtime pal in Dwight Howard.
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Kevin McHale style of coaching best suits J-Smoove and even though Doc Rivers modus operandi is quite similar, there’s no way he could get along George Karl, a strict headmaster in every sense of the word!
So let’s hope he makes the wise decision and return to the Rockets — I’d love to see him back!
Smith, 29, averaged 12.0 PPG, 6.0 RPG and 2.6 APG in 55 games with the Pistons and Rockets last season.
He was also a force to be reckoned with in the playoffs being a key catalyst to catapult the Rockets to the Western Conference Finals — he averaged 13.5 PPG, 5.6 RPG and 2.7 APG.
Come back J-Smoove — go Rockets!