Josh Smith Signs With Rockets

FRIDAY, 11:23am: The deal is official, the Rockets announced.

WEDNESDAY, 5:15pm: Smith officially cleared waivers Wednesday and is looking forward to joining Howard in Houston, reports Mark Berman of Fox 26 Houston. Smith said the Rockets expressed interest in acquiring him even before he was waived. “Now we came together, and being able to be wanted by a team with so much dynamics as far as having a chance to win the title is very special and very humbling,” Smith said.

1:05pm: The updated version of Wojnarowski’s story indicates that Smith is signing a one-year deal, in line with what Feigen says, and seconds Feigen’s report that the team is in talks about a trade that would open a roster spot. Those talks could be complete as soon as later today, Wojnarowski writes.

1:01pm: The Rockets are working on a swap to create a roster spot, Feigen tweets. Feigen also indicates that Smith’s deal is for just one season, conflicting with Wojnarowski’s earlier report.

12:52pm: Smith will receive the full $2.077MM value of the biannual exception this season, reports Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link).

NBA: Philadelphia 76ers at Detroit Pistons

12:03pm: Josh Smith has committed to signing with the Rockets once he clears waivers at 4pm Central today, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports (Twitter link). The move is no surprise, since Houston became the favorite Monday after the Pistons waived him, and the Rockets only strengthened that position Tuesday. Houston had promised a starting job, as Marc Stein of reported overnight (Twitter link), and close friend Dwight Howard was recruiting him. Smith will receive a two-year deal for the biannual exception with a player option for next season, Wojnarowski reports in a full story.

That exception, which gives him $2.077MM this year and a 4.5% raise on that salary for next season, assuming Houston is giving him the full amount, is an advantage the Rockets had over many other suitors limited to the minimum. The Sixers have the cap space necessary to claim Smith off waivers and forestall Houston from signing him, but they reportedly have no intention of doing so. Still, perhaps the most important edge the Rockets had was the willingness to offer a starting role, as Smith had narrowed his choices to only teams that would give him that, Stein tweets. The Heat were one of those teams, but they evidently came up empty, as did other contenders reported to have varying levels of interest in signing the 29-year-old forward, including the Mavericks, Cavaliers, Grizzlies, Lakers, Clippers and Kings. Memphis made a strong push for him late, as Wojnarowski reported earlier today (on Twitter), but the Grizzlies fell short.

The client of agents Brian Dyke and Wallace Prather saw his stock surge as his price point dropped. Detroit, at 5-23, saw fit to eat the remaining guaranteed money on the four-year, $54MM contract he signed in the summer of 2013, using the stretch provision to spread the money so that the Pistons will pay just $5.4MM each season from 2015/16 through 2019/20. That number figures to go down further thanks to set-off rights, depending on the value of the contracts that Smith signs for the seasons ahead. His deal with the Rockets will save the Pistons $630,259 this season, presuming Smith is receiving the full value of the biannual.

The Rockets have a full 15-man roster, as our roster counts show, so a corresponding move will be necessary. They have two players without fully guaranteed contracts, but one of them is starting point guard Patrick Beverley. The other is backup center Tarik Black, but he’s played a key role and started 12 games in place of an injured Howard. Black had a partial guarantee of $50K on his minimum-salary contract to begin the season, but he’s already earned more than that amount.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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