SAN ANTONIO -- When the Detroit Pistons waived Josh Smith on Monday, the Los Angeles Clippers were on a team bus on the way to AT&T Center for a morning shootaround. Word spread quickly on the bus and spilled on over to the court when the team arrived at the arena as Doc Rivers simply smiled at the media assembled before him.
“I don’t know,” Rivers said when asked about the Clippers’ interest in the newly available forward. “It just happened.”
Rivers would stay tight-lipped before Monday night’s game against the San Antonio Spurs, joking that it was up to the media if the Clippers were interested, but multiples team sources indicate the team has interest in Smith when he clears waivers in 48 hours.
The Clippers can only offer Smith a veteran’s minimum contract and would likely cut third-year guard Jared Cunningham to make room for Smith on their 15-man roster. Smith has two years and at least $26 million left on his contract, which Detroit still owes him so the salary might not be a big factor.
The Clippers are also likely to part with Cunningham anyway before his contract is guaranteed on Jan. 10 to save some roster flexibility.
Smith, 29, was averaging 13.1 points, 7.2 rebounds and 4.7 assists per game this season for Detroit. He signed a four-year, $54 million 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.
Kevin Eastman, the Clippers’ vice president of basketball operations, was on his phone during the Clippers’ shootaround shortly after Smith was released, but he and Rivers won’t have to look far if they want to ask about Smith. Clippers assistant coach Mike Woodson was Smith’s coach with the Atlanta Hawks from 2004-2010 and Jamal Crawford played with him in Atlanta from 2009-2011.
“[Smith] is one of the best all-around players in the league,” Crawford said. “He could help anybody.”