Josh Smith to come off the bench?

  • Jason Whitney

Would Josh Smith come off the bench for Detroit?

Polarizing hybrid forward Josh Smith of the Detroit Pistons has taken his fair share of criticism since signing a $54 million, four-year contract last summer. Despite putting up numbers reminiscent of his career averages, Smith took a lot of heat in Detroit for the Pistons sluggish season.

Many NBA experts have deemed his contract virtually untradable, so Smith looks like he’s going to be with the Pistons for at least the next few seasons. Seeing that Greg Monroe plays the power forward – which is Smith’s natural position, there is talk about J-Smoove coming off the bench next season so that he can play more minutes at the four-spot where he is more comfortable.

Via Basketball Insiders:

If it weren’t for Smith’s $13.5 million salary (through the 2016-17 season) – which makes him far and away the team’s most expensive contract – the idea of actually bringing him in as the team’s sixth man might just make a great deal of sense. Not only would it immediately add depth and experience to a second unit that may have scored 31.0 points per game this past season (a ton of “garbage time” in the Motor City of late), but also averaged surrendering 34.6 points per game as well. Smith would also have the freedom to move back to his natural position and truly exhibit some of the maturity and leadership that may have been questioned in the past.

Hypothetically, if Van Gundy were to convince Smith of the merits of such a move while assuring him of an ample amount of rotation minutes to go along with the elevated status of leading the second unit, then Detroit could be in business a lot sooner than later and with many of the same pieces they currently have. For those concerned over a precedence for such an act, look no further than as recently as 2008-09 when ex-Lakers coach Phil Jackson did the very same to career-starter Lamar Odom. Granted, the circumstances weren’t entirely the same as those were contending rosters in Los Angeles, but Van Gundy has the blend of player-friendly personality and a certain level of austerity (not to mention) “chutzpah” – if you will – to also pull off such a maneuver.

This move would certainly help Detroit’s spacing offensively. By potentially placing Francisco Garcia into the small forward position, this would help take the pressure off of teams sagging defensively forcing the paint to be crowded.

Players like Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond would benefit from this because by having a small forward who’s a better shooter would allow them more room to operate down low.

It will be interesting to see of new coach Stan Van Gundy will bring this up to Josh Smith and how he will take it. My guess is Smith won’t be thrilled.

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