The release of Josh Smith nearly a year ago was coach/executive Stan Van Gundy’s “watershed moment” with the Pistons, according to David Mayo of MLive. Calling the move both “symbolic and structural,” Mayo notes that Van Gundy wanted to put his stamp on the team and get rid of players brought in by former President of Basketball Operations Joe Dumars. The Pistons didn’t find much of a trade market for Smith, who had two years and $27MM left on his contract, so they waived him on December 22nd, 2014. Mayo adds that it’s unlikely the move would have been made without the stretch provision, which let Detroit pay the $27MM over five seasons.
There’s more news from the Central Division:
- Expect the Pistons to listen to early-season trade talk, but the team probably won’t make a move until closer to the February deadline, Mayo writes in a separate column. Detroit made seven trades in nine months from October of 2014 through July, but the team is in a much stronger position now, Mayo contends. He cites team needs as scoring punch in the backcourt and depth at power forward.
- As the Bucks hope to snap Golden State’s winning streak tonight, Gery Woelfel of The Journal Times recalls that Milwaukee had the opportunity to obtain both Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. Milwaukee was one of several teams Thompson worked out for in 2011, but the Bucks decided to move their pick for veterans in a three-team deal. Milwaukee wound up with Stephen Jackson, Shaun Livingston and the draft rights to Tobias Harris from Charlotte and Beno Udrih from Sacramento. In addition, Milwaukee sent Corey Maggette to Charlotte and John Salmons and the draft rights to Jimmer Fredette [the 10th pick] to Sacramento. The Warriors took Thompson 11th. In 2012, the Bucks traded Jackson and Andrew Bogut to Golden State for Monta Ellis, Ekpe Udoh and Kwame Brown. Woelfel says Curry could have been included in the deal, but Milwaukee was concerned about the status of his ankle after season-ending surgery.
- New coach Fred Hoiberg still believes in the Bulls despite an uneven start to his first NBA season, according to the Associated Press. The Bulls are 12-8 under Hoiberg, who took over for Tom Thibodeau during the offseason. “We’ve got to get more consistent,” Hoiberg said. “We show flashes. The biggest thing is consistency with our group as far as getting out and playing with pace. When we do play with pace, we’re pretty darn good.”