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2016 Not-So-Clippers Exit Interview: Josh Smith

We continue our exit interview series with a failed experiment: backup big man Josh Smith.

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Name: Joshua Smith

Age: 30

Key Stats: 32 games as a Clipper, 14.2 minutes per game, 14.2 points, 9.8 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 2.7 blocks, and 1.4 steals per 36 minutes.  38% FG and 31% from deep.

Years in NBA: 12

2015-16 Salary: League minimum of $1.5 million from Clippers in addition to $5.4 million in prior stretched salary from the Detroit Pistons

Future Contract Status: Unrestricted free agent for the Houston Rockets this summer, no bird or early bird rights


Josh Smith's arrival to the Clippers brought out some mixed emotions.  On one hand, he had JUST killed the Clippers in the playoffs, dropping 19 points in the Rockets' comeback win in game 6, including four made threes.  He's also infamous for his low basketball IQ, making dumb plays and shooting an incredibly high volume of three pointers at an incredibly low rate (career 1578 attempts at 28.5%).  On the other hand, he had a reputation throughout his career as a remarkable athlete and skilled forward, handling and passing the ball well.  He's also been a long-time stat stuffer defensively, with 1.3 steals and 2.1 blocks per 36 minutes in his career.


As a Clipper, Josh didn't have a lot of strengths, but early in the season he showed real signs of high-level rim protection defensively.  He anchored an incredibly small second unit featuring Austin Rivers, Jamal Crawford, Wesley Johnson, and Paul Pierce, and did relatively admirably in that crappy situation.  He was routinely the tallest player on the floor despite being just 6'9", and while the Clippers' second unit was atrocious at rebounding and defense early in the year, he was doing his best to keep them afloat.


Everything he tried to do offensively failed.  Josh Smith missed threes, he missed mid-range jumpers, he missed floaters, layups, and dunks.  He regularly failed to even catch the ball when he was fed on a roll, and his ineptness killed the offensive hopes of a unit that couldn't compete defensively.    The bench would let up an 8-0 run almost every game, and the issue wasn't so much that they would allow 8 points in the 2-3 minutes they played to start the fourth quarter, but that they could not score even a few points to counter-balance the run.  Smith was clearly too small to thrive as the sole "big" on the floor, and his struggles offensively really limited his potential to run the four.  Any dreams of Smith playing in the high post, driving to the rim, and feeding Griffin and Jordan were lost when he displayed an inability to do anything offensively.

Future With the Clippers:

Crazier things have happened, but at 30 years old, Smith's career outlook isn't looking too great, not to mention his potential return to a team that traded him away halfway through his first season.  The Clippers accommodated Josh's wishes and sent him back to conference rival Houston, where he had success last season, but he was even worse as a Rocket than as a Clipper.  Smith's percentages dropped from the field, deep, and the line, and he wound up out of the rotation as the season went on.

Favorite Moment as a Clipper:

I couldn't bear to share video of Josh Smith hitting a three, but this block was nice, and against Steph, which is cool

Josh Smith Blocks Stephen Curry _ Warriors vs... by NBAGamesHighlights