The Detroit Pistons on Monday waived veteran forward Josh Smith, who still had two years and at least $26 million remaining on his contract after this season.
The 29-year-old Smith was averaging 13.1 points, 7.2 rebounds and 4.7 assists per game this season.
“Our team has not performed the way we had expected throughout the first third of the season and adjustments need to be made in terms of our focus and direction,” coach and team president Stan Van Gundy said in a statement.
“We are shifting priorities to aggressively develop our younger players while also expanding the roles of other players in the current rotation to improve performance and build for our future. As we expand certain roles, others will be reduced. In fairness to Josh, being a highly versatile 10-year veteran in this league, we feel it’s best to give him his freedom to move forward. We have full respect for Josh as a player and a person.”
Sources told ESPN.com’s Marc Stein that Van Gundy personally delivered the news to Smith on Monday shortly before noon and stressed that there was no incident or blowup that precipitated Monday’s move. Van Gundy is expected to address the local media in Detroit later Monday.
Smith signed a $54 million, four-year deal with the Pistons before last season, but he shot only 42 percent from the field in 2013-14. This season, Smith is at 39 percent.
If Smith clears waivers over the next 48 hours, he will have the right to go elsewhere as a free agent. By choosing to waive Smith now, Detroit will have to pay off what is owed to Smith beyond this season, but the Pistons can reduce the yearly hit to the $5 million range over the next few years with the NBA’s stretch provision.
NBA front-office sources told Stein that the Sacramento Kings, Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rocketsand Los Angeles Clippers are among the teams that will have interest in Smith when he clears waivers Wednesday