NBA AM: Josh Smith: ‘It Was Time’
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Josh Smith: ‘It was time’: Detroit Pistons forward Josh Smith was born just outside of Atlanta, Georgia. He went to high school in Atlanta and played his first nine NBA season with the Atlanta Hawks, so when free agency rolled around for Smith it was surprising that he didn’t ultimately stay in Atlanta but it was clear not only to Smith, but the Hawks that it was time for a change.
“It wasn’t as hard as other people saw it,” Smith said to HOOPSWORLD. “It was time for me to experience a different thing in my life, a new situation, new opportunity and I’m happy where I’m at.”
Smith signed a four-year $54 million contract this summer with the Pistons; however, there were several other offers on the table, but what the Pistons had to offer was exactly what Smith was looking for in his next team.
“Just all the young talent that they have,” Smith said. “There’s a lot of great potential in Greg Monroe, Andre Drummond, the draft picks Tony Mitchell, a veteran college player in Peyton Siva, (Kentavious) Caldwell-Pope. Those guys are what intrigued me. Shooters in Charlie Villanueva and Rodney Stuckey, who I had competitive matchups with in high school. He’s always been a competitor and always a competitor in the league. They had a lot of guys that I knew could play the game of basketball and could potentially be something great in this league. When we acquired Brandon Jennings after me and Chauncey Billups, I became really excited about the upcoming season.”
Smith admits that Pistons president Joe Dumars and Pistons owner Tom Gores played a big part in swaying him to Detroit.
“[Dumars is] a guy who is a hall of famer, to me he could be a hall of famer as an executive too,” Smith said. “Him being able to let a player express himself for who he is. How well he understands the game. How well he is able to breakdown everything; work with a great owner. It’s just a blessing for me to come to this great situation and all I want to do is to show my gratitude, play hard every night and show my appreciation for them wanting me to be here.”
One thing that become clear in the few weeks of Pistons training camp in preseason is the veteran effect Smith is having on the younger Piston players namely Andre Drummond.
“Josh is a leader,” Drummond said to HOOPSWORLD. “He’s probably one of the better vets I have been around. He is real real vocal with me. He tells me different things we can do to be a better player and how to continue to grow in this league. “
That leadership role is something Smith relishes with his new team, especially with a player as raw as Drummond.
“I take it on a lot because I’ve been in a lot of situations in this league,” Smith said. “I’ve been on winning teams; I’ve been on losing teams as well. I would say at one point, (Andre Drummond) was a guy that really didn’t understand the league that well, but just tried to play off energy and effort. I just try to slow it down for him, slow the game up a little bit for him and the rest of the young guys.
“It’s more than just me helping these guys out. Chauncey Billups is being a great contributor too, bringing these guys’ basketball I.Q. along and helping these guys along the way. We have a really good situation going on with everybody and I’m just excited about the opportunity of a new season.”
The big criticism of the Pistons is how jammed their front court is with Drummond, Smith and power forward Greg Monroe.
“I see it working real well; we all play with each other,” Smith said. “Sometimes there may be a player on the bench, but it can work, especially with a great coach in Mo Cheeks. He’s able to work it out and we’re all trying to excel at the positions that we have on the court.”
The Pistons last made the playoffs in 2008 and hope that this season team can not only get into the playoffs but make some noise in the East.
“We can be really good this year,” Smith said. “We’re not really approaching it from what people are saying about us. All we got to do is just focus on what we have to do for ourselves, tweaking things, getting better. As long as we keep having confidence in ourselves, I think the sky’s the limit for this season for us.”
The Pistons open their regular season on Wednesday October 30 in Detroit against the Wizards.
We Want To Know:
Will Nerlens Sit Out The Season?: Yesterday Philadelphia 76ers coach Brett Brown made headlines when he told reporters in Cleveland pregame that he thought rookie Nerlens Noel might have to sit out the season.
“I doubt, I think everybody doubts he is going to play this year,” Brown said to reporters pregame. “He is with us in every way in terms of practices and shootaround, film session. It is a classroom opportunity for him to learn me and the NBA. We don’t want to waste this year.”
Brown admitted the pace of Noel’s rehab has been where the team hoped and that sitting him for the season was not something expected.
“It most definitely was not the plan all along, and I think it is a work in progress,” Brown said. “It was a decision I thought was going to be made, but nobody ever said to me that this is a definite. I think everybody is expecting it to be a definite decision, but even now as we speak no one has said that this is 100 percent certainty.”
The Sixers are not wasting their opportunities with Noel, especially because he is traveling with the team and working with the 76er coaches every day.
“This has been an opportunity to break down his shot, really work on his free throw and start a little bit from ground zero,” Brown said. “He has bought in. He’s been great. On my staff we have Greg Foster, who played 13 years as an NBA big, so he can pay attention to him. Although we won’t see him on the court, I feel a little bit better about his path with him being with us.”
Noel’s agent Andy Miller, reached yesterday by HOOPSWORLD denied that any decisions on Nerlens have been made and said that Noel’s rehab is progressing nicely and that he has had no setbacks or new injuries.
“We’re taking his therapy one day at a time,” Miller said in a text message. “We will evaluate his situation on an ongoing basis. There have been no decisions made at this time. He has been doing his rehab vigorously. We are pleased with his progress, effort and his professionalism.”
Given the 76ers obvious rebuilding plan, sitting out Noel for the entire season and letting him properly recover isn’t a terrible thing; however it does remove some of the luster from Noel’s rookie star.
If Noel does not play this season he will be classified as a rookie next season, which could give him a distinct advantage against the incoming 2014 rookies, in that he’ll have a full year of NBA skill and body development and he’ll be able to gain more strength and power in his surgically repaired knee.
Checking In With The Rookies: Training camp and preseason is typically a rude awakening for first year NBA players. HOOPSWORLD checked in with Memphis rookie Jamaal Franklin and Detroit rookie Peyton Siva.
Memphis Grizzlies' rookie Jamaal Franklin talks about adjusting to the NBA game and being a rookie on a team with championship aspirations.
Pistons rookie Peyton Siva talks about being a rookie in Detroit and learning the NBA game from Chauncey Billups.
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