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
Doc Rivers, head coach and president of basketball operations for the Clippers, on Friday traded Josh Smith back to the Houston Rockets 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.
Perhaps the handwriting was on the wall when Smith played in just four of the previous 14 games before the Clippers defeated the host New York Knicks 116-88 on Friday. Smith this season had a shouting match with assistant coach Mike Woodson after one game and an in-game verbal row with Rivers during another.
Rivers talked about his decision to trade Smith before the Clippers took on the Knicks.
“Obviously, I wanted Josh to work out, it just didn’t for us,” Rivers said. “Like I said earlier, he was very good, a good teammate and all that, but it just doesn’t work and so we wanted to go in another direction.”
Rivers said Smith took the news well..
“He was great,” Rivers said. “I thought he was great throughout. We decided to go in another direction with Cole (Aldrich). Cole played well and we started winning games and Josh was great in the locker room, great in practices, so he was a professional.”
The Clippers signed Smith during the off-season to a veteran’s minimum one-year contract.
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.