The Rockets sent the draft rights of forward Maarty Leunen to the Clippers to get Smith. The Clippers sent the Rockets cash to cover the balance of Smith's salary, as well as the draft rights to Ukrainian big man Serhiy Lischuk.
"I am glad to be here," a smiling Smith said after arriving at the Toyota Center before the game. "I'm excited just being able to get an opportunity to get back on the floor and contribute and play for some guys that were newfound brothers to me last year and just being able to play with the excitement and happiness that's needed to be successful in this business.
"I just want to be the glue and contribute in any way possible," said Smith, who averaged 12 points and six rebounds in 55 games for the Rockets last season. "I don't want to throw out any predictions out there. I just want to put my best foot forward and hopefully add some success to this team."
Smith scored just two points in about 20 minutes of Friday's win, but he contributed in plenty of other ways, drawing raves from interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff and his teammates. He spoke after the game about his yearning to get back on the court after getting very little recent playing time with the Clippers.
"I wanted to play bad, man,'' Smith said. "I haven't played in like a month, month and a half, so being able to touch that hardwood makes you appreciate a lot of things. Being able to be around a group of guys and coaching staff that is confident in you is definitely helpful for my game."
Rockets general manager Daryl Morey also tweeted about the trade Friday.
Welcome back Josh Smith! #bandbacktogether— Daryl Morey (@dmorey) January 22, 2016
The trade was first reported by Yahoo! Sports.
Clippers coach and president of basketball operations Doc Rivers said Smith was a good teammate but that the team wanted to go in another direction after Smith had fallen behind backup center Cole Aldrich in the rotation.
"We decided to go in another direction and play Cole," Rivers said. "Cole performed well. We started winning games, and, you know, Josh was great in the locker room. He was great in practices. He was a professional.
"I wanted Josh to work out. It just didn't for us."
An 11-year NBA veteran, Smith, 30, averaged 12.0 points and 6.0 rebounds per game after being acquired by the Rockets last season in a trade with the Detroit Pistons.
He then signed with the Clippers as a free agent for the veterans minimum of $1.5 million in July. His time in Los Angeles didn't go well. He set career lows for points per game (5.9), shooting percentage (.383) and minutes per game (14.3).
Smith spent nine seasons with the Atlanta Hawks and parts of two with the Pistons before joining the Rockets last season. He has averaged 14.8 points and 7.6 rebounds per game in his career.
Leunen, a second-round draft pick in 2008, is playing for Sidigas Avellino in Italian Serie A. Lishchuk, 33, currently plays in the Ukrainian leagues.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.