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Southwest Notes: Smith, Ginobili, Gasol

Josh Smith has found contentment in Houston after enduring much criticism elsewhere, and the Rockets share that feeling of satisfaction with the partnership, as Grantland’s Jonathan Abrams examines. There’s mutual interest between Smith, who hits free agency again this summer, and GM Daryl Morey in a new deal, as Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reported last month, and Morey made it clear to Abrams that he values the 29-year-old.

“I’m not sure what we’d do without him,” Morey added. “He’s been critical to getting us where we are right now.”

Houston will have Smith’s Non-Bird rights to give him a 20% raise on the $2.077MM salary he signed for via the Biannual Exception in December. Here’s more from around the Southwest Division:

  • Manu Ginobili suggested that he’s never pondered retirement quite so seriously before and said that Tim Duncan‘s decision about whether to play again next season will affect his own, as the swingman wrote for La Nacion’s and as Dan McCarney of the San Antonio Express-News translates. In any case, Ginobili, whose contract with the Spurs expires this summer, said he’ll take the rest of the month to decide whether to return.
  • Concerns about whether Ginobili, Duncan and Gregg Popovich would remain over the course of a three-year deal were in Pau Gasol‘s head when he decided against signing with the Spurs, as Ramona Shelburne of writes in a lengthy piece on the Bulls, whom Gasol chose instead.
  • Dirk Nowitzki confirmed that there was no vote that took place when the Mavs decided to divvy up playoff shares without giving one to Rajon Rondo, as he said on KTCK-AM this week (transcription via the Dallas Morning News). “No, we actually didn’t vote. It was just the guys who were there that day got a playoff share,” Nowitzki said. “What we usually do is give a lot of weight to the guys that work for you all season long; the locker room guys, the equipment guys, the trainers, the massage guys [or] whoever you feel helped you get through the season. We usually divide it up and then give them a lot of money. I think that got blown out of proportion. It’s not like it was that much money. I don’t think Rondo would have cared either way.”

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