Josh Smith made an immediate impact for the Rockets after Friday’s trade, and Dwight Howard tells Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle that he’s happy to have his childhood friend back on the team. Smith flew to Houston immediately after the deal was announced, then had six assists, five rebounds and three blocks in a win over the Bucks. “I thought that me and him together in the playoffs was key,” Howard said. “I thought we really had great chemistry on both ends of the floor. All of us have a crazy type of relationship, especially me and Josh. He’s happy. We’re happy he’s back. We’ll see how it works. I think it’s going to be great.”
There’s more NBA news out of Texas:
- Ty Lawson has been playing better, but Rockets interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff isn’t ready to make him a starter, writes Calvin Watkins of ESPN.com. Patrick Beverley has been out of action with a sprained ankle, and Bickerstaff said he will remain in the starting lineup when he returns. “People will earn their minutes,” Bickerstaff said. “So both of them want to play obviously, there’s minutes there for both of them. Whoever is playing the best is going to get those minutes and I think that’s the right thing for the team.” It’s a decision that could affect the long-term future for Lawson, whose $13.2MM salary is non-guaranteed for next season.
- Salah Mejri may be earning more court time with the Mavericks, according to Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News. The Tunisian center went through a 31-game stretch without playing earlier this season, but he’s impressed the team lately with his defensive presence. “I don’t hesitate to call anybody’s number on our roster,” said coach Rick Carlisle. “Everybody’s played when it counts. He’s one guy that’s been kind of an odd man out because of our depth at center. … He’s making a case that he deserves some minutes.”
- Jeff Ayres, who signed a 10-day deal with the Clippers today, said he understood the Spurs‘ decision not to keep him, tweets Ben Bolch of The Los Angeles Times. Ayres said San Antonio explained that there was no room for him after signing free agent David West. “There’s no animosity or anything like that,” Ayres said of coach/president Gregg Popovich. “I understand the business and appreciate how honest he was.” (Twitter link)