Josh Smith doesn’t want to leave Houston, and Rockets GM Daryl Morey doesn’t want him to go when he again becomes a free agent this summer, writes Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. The deal that Smith signed with Houston in December covers just the remainder of 2014/15, so the sides will have to agree to a new contract to continue their partnership. The Rockets have wanted the versatile frontcourt player since before he left the Hawks in 2013, according to Wojnarowski, and Smith showed why Tuesday, coming two rebounds and an assist shy of a triple-double while scoring 15 points in just 25 minutes in a Game 2 win.
The Rockets have only Non-Bird rights on Smith, meaning that they can’t exceed more than 20% of the $2.077MM they’re paying him this season, an amount that would come to $2,492,400, without using cap space or another exception. The Rockets have about $54.5MM on the books against a projected $67.1MM salary cap for next season, a figure that doesn’t include roster charges, other cap holds and non-guaranteed salary, all of which would make it difficult for Houston to give Smith a significant raise without using its mid-level exception. Smith is set to receive $5.4MM from Detroit each of the next five seasons via the stretch provision, and while a portion of that figures to be set off by the amount that Smith makes on his next deal, it gives him greater leeway to pass up more money elsewhere if he prefers to stay in Houston for less.
The client of Brian Dyke and Wallace Prather has played some center for Houston, and the Hawks and Pistons put him at small forward in the past, but he’s chiefly a power forward, and a renewed commitment to Smith would seemingly complicate the futures of Terrence Jones and Donatas Motiejunas. Those two power forwards are up for rookie scale extensions this summer and would be set for restricted free agency in the summer of 2016 if they don’t get them.