By: Jonas Lawson
Auburn Hills, MI. – The signing of Josh Smith was a big day for a Pistons franchise that has missed the playoffs in four of the last six NBA seasons.
Pistons owner Tom Gores and GM Joe Dumars have been all business since Gores acquired the team from Karen Davidson in 2010. They have declared on many occasions that they will do whatever it takes to ensure the franchise is restored to its 2004 glory days, even if that means spending more than previous owner Bill Davidson ever did.
On July 1st at 12:01 am, Gores led the charge into free agency with one player in mind, Atlanta Hawks free agent Josh Smith.
In the past three off-seasons, the Pistons have done pretty well for themselves, drafting three franchise cornerstones in Greg Monroe, Brandon Knight, and Andre Drummond, but one place Detroit has not done particularly well in is in Free Agency.
“This summer we feel that the draft has put us in a position to become a desirable destination for Free Agents,” said Dumars.
With over 20 million in cap space and a new head coach in Maurice Cheeks, the draft is not the only thing Detroit has going for them. So at 12:01 am when Gores and Dumars met with Josh Smith in Los Angeles, they did more listening than recruiting.
“Detroit was at the top of my list, before July 1st, once they cleared the cap space I really started to think that this may become a possibility,” said Smith.
The 6-9, 225-pound forward left the meeting without a formal offer from the Pistons. The Pistons, like the rest of the league, were waiting for all the drama with the Houston Rockets and Dwight Howard to play out. Once Howard signed last Saturday, the Pistons made a big splash signing Smith to a five year, 54 million dollar contract.
“The last time we had a lot of money we went out and got Charlie Villanueva and Ben Gordon, this time we wanted to bring in a guy who we believed can change the culture around here, so we signed Josh Smith,” Dumars said earlier.
Dumars said Smith sold himself,
“We knew Atlanta, Dallas and Houston wanted him, so we had to act fast.”
Dumars wanted to know if Smith could bring his versatility to the team, and Smith wanted to know if the franchise could nurture him with their stability and success.
“It’s hard to look around you and nobody has won anything,” Smith told reporters.”I believe we can win here,”
Smith believes that he still has not reached his ceiling and that he will be worth the money he signed for. Dumars and the coaching staff thinks he can play Small Forward, a position where his stats come 2nd to LeBron James.
“We’re pleased to welcome Josh Smith to the Pistons organization,” Dumars said. “Josh is a two-way player and we look forward to blending his talents with our young core.”
In nine seasons with the Atlanta Hawks Smith averaged 15.3 ppg (.465 FG%, .283 3FG%, .654 FT%), 8.0 rpg, 3.2 apg, 2.1 bpg , 1.3 spg and 34.1 minutes in 676 career games (654 starts). He also brings six seasons of playoff experience, something that no other player on the roster has on their resume.
Even with numbers like that, Smith has never been selected to an All Star team, often being out-shadowed by teammates.
“I feel like everything I’ve went through has made me a better player, and I’m ready for a breakout season,” Smith said.
Pistons fans can only hope that Smith is the marquee player that they have been waiting for.
Jonas Lawson is a recent graduate of Hope College and a lifelong Detroit Pistons fan, through the good times and the bad. For insight on the Pistons and everything NBA, follow @JALaw34 on Twitter.