Josh Smith gets a rebound for the Clippers during a Nov. 7 game against the Houston Rockets as the Rockets’ Dwight Howard looks on at Staples Center/AP photo by Jae C. Hong
Josh Smith’s short and stormy stay with the L.A. Clippers is over. Smith was traded back to the Houston Rockets on Friday for the draft rights to Maarty Leunen, a 6-foot-9 forward who currently plays for Scandone Avellino of the Italian Serie A.
The Rockets also received the draft rights to forward Sergei Lishouck and cash considerations. Lishouck currently plays for UCAM Murcia in Spain.
The Clippers acquired Smith – a forward who also played center for the team – during the off-season, signing him to the veterans’ minimum of $1,499,187. But Smith fell into disfavor when he didn’t play the way coach Doc Rivers wanted him to play. Smith also had a shouting match with assistant coach Mike Woodson after a game as well as an in-game verbal row with Rivers.
Through Thursday’s loss at Cleveland, Smith had not played in 10 of the past 14 games. He played 20 minutes in a Jan. 13 win over Miami and 19 in a loss to Sacramento this past Saturday, but that was because DeAndre Jordan missed those two games with pneumonia.
Smith spent the 2014-15 season playing first for Detroit and then with Houston. He scored 14 of his 19 points during the fourth quarter of Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinals, helping the Rockets overcome a 19-point third-quarter deficit to beat the Clippers 119-107 on May 14 at Staples Center. That sent the series back to Houston, where the Rockets defeated the Clippers 113-100 in Game 7 to advance to the conference finals, at the same time denying the Clippers their first trip to the conference finals in franchise history.
Smith is 30. He averaged 5.7 points and 3.9 rebounds in 32 games with the Clippers; he started one. He has career scoring and rebounding averages of 16.2 and 8.3, respectively, but that’s at an average of 32.9 minutes. He averaged only 14.3 minutes with the Clippers.