Josh Smith is the NBA’s version of an acquired taste, observes Calvin Watkins of ESPN.com in a piece that explains why the 12th-year veteran didn’t mesh with the Clippers, even under a reputed player’s coach like Doc Rivers, nearly as well as he did in his first stint with the Rockets. Smith was frank in his interaction with James Harden, pushing the shooting guard to become a better player and locker room leader, and Harden accepted that guidance, Watkins writes. Smith also mentored Terrence Jones and Clint Capela, and Corey Brewer and Jason Terry were enamored with him, according to Watkins. That sort of chemistry simply didn’t exist in L.A., as we examine amid more reaction to today’s trade that sent Smith from the Clippers to the Rockets.
- Smith, who today cited a desire to play a leadership role on the Rockets, also wanted to do the same with the Clippers when he signed with them, but the Clippers already had their leadership structure in place, making him a poor fit in the L.A. locker room, writes Dan Woike of the Orange County Register.
- Smith’s shot selection was one reason he fell out of favor with Rivers, writes Barry Stavro of the Los Angeles Times, and his defense was another, according to fellow Times scribe Ben Bolch.
- Rockets interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff gushed about what Smith can bring to the Rockets, as Mark Berman of Fox 26 Houston relays (on Twitter). “It’s huge,” Bickerstaff said. “It gives us a leg up. We don’t have to start all the way over with him. We don’t have to teach him everything that we do. He knows what we do. He’s familiar with how his teammates like the ball. He’s familiar with how to play pick-and-roll with Dwight [Howard]. He knows how to play pick-and-roll with James. So that gives us a huge advantage.”
- Bickerstaff isn’t the only Rocket who’s glad to have Smith back, as Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle details. “It’s great news,” Terry said. “It’s more than his skill, which is what he brought to the table last year, but it’s the intangible of his personality. It’s infectious. The chemistry he and Dwight had together was something you can’t make up. It’s natural. He was a huge part of our success last year.”