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All of a sudden, Josh Smith is a Free Agent and the Kings are interested

Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

The Pistons shocked the NBA today by releasing forward Josh Smith per a report from ESPN's Marc Stein.  Smith was in the second year of a four year, $54,000,000 contract but playing some of the worst basketball of his career, averaging just 13.1 points a game on an abysmal 39.1% from the field.

Sacramento has been linked to Smith multiple times in the past, with a deal nearly coming to fruition this summer, only to be rebuffed by Stan Van Gundy.  We heard recently that the Kings still had some interest in Smith, but Sam Amick reports that the Kings were moving away from the idea.

This waiving changes all of that however.  Smith will now be "on waivers" for 48 hours, during which a team can claim him but only under one of the following conditions (H/T to Larry Coon's CBA FAQ):

  • The team is far enough under the salary cap to fit the player's entire salary.
  • The team has a Disabled Player exception for at least the player's salary, and the player is on the last season of his contract.
  • The team has a trade exception for at least the player's salary.
  • The player has a minimum salary contract.

It's exceedingly likely that Smith will clear waivers and then become a Free Agent, able to go wherever he chooses.  That makes Smith to Sacramento pretty unlikely even if the Kings are interested.  Sacramento has no cap space and as such can only really offer Smith a minimum contract, which is also what multiple contenders would be able to offer.  Sacramento is about $9 million over the cap currently.  Still, that won't stop the Kings from trying.

And before you ask, no the Kings can't use a trade exception to sign Smith.

Personally, I'd be all for the Kings going after Smith.  Smith is longtime friends with Rudy Gay, would be a big talent upgrade, and as of now, would come very cheaply.   The Kings would be able to upgrade their bench by the mere fact of having Smith available without giving anything up.  With the Kings, Smith benefits from having two scoring options ahead of him in Cousins and Gay, and we all see how Rudy Gay has been rejuvenated by playing with DeMarcus.

I say go for it.  Just don't set your expectations too high, because this decision will be made by Smith himself, and Sacramento hasn't ever been a premier Free Agent destination.