Josh Smith had an ugly debut in the Big3 last night, writes J.L. Kirven of The Detroit Free Press. Smith was loudly booed by a Detroit crowd that hasn’t forgiven him for his short stay with the Pistons, then got tossed from the game after a skirmish with Royce White.
Smith, 33, is part of a fresh influx of talent in the league, playing his last NBA games during the 2017/18 season. However, Detroit was probably the worst city for him to start on the BIG3’s revolving tour. He lasted just a season and a half there after signing a four-year, $54MM deal in 2013. The Pistons used the stretch provision to unload him, and he won’t come off their payroll until collecting another $5,331,729 next season.
“I enjoyed the intensity and the passion,” Reggie Theus, his BIG3 coach, said after the game. “Obviously he’s got to contain himself …”
- Fewer than half of the underclassmen who entered this year’s NBA draft were selected, prompting Michael Rand and Marcus Fuller of The Minneapolis Star-Tribune to examine whether players are benefiting from the current system. Rand contends an expanded G League and the addition of two-way contracts have created more opportunities for undrafted players. Fuller defends the rights of underclassmen to pursue their dreams of playing professionally even if they turn out to be bad decisions.
- Bobby Marks of ESPN takes a look at the 13 teams with cap space, including nine with $20MM or more, that are positioned to make big moves as the free agency sweepstakes kicks off next Sunday. The Nuggets, Magic and Sixers could join that list, but only if they renounce significant free agents.
- Mexican center Gustavo Ayon is leaving Real Madrid and wants another shot at the NBA, according to Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. Ayon, 34, spent time with the Hornets, Magic, Bucks and Hawks, but hasn’t played in the league since the 2013/14 season. “I don’t know if it is a farewell. Today I don’t have any offer,” Ayon said. “I want to go back to the NBA. It is a personal desire.” Jordan Mickey, who played for the Celtics and Heat, may replace Ayon if he leaves, writes Alessandro Maggi of Sportando.
- Former Bucks, Pelicans and Jazz guard Nate Wolters has signed with Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv, Carchia reports. He spent this season with Zalgiris Kaunas in Lithuania.