Josh Smith signs with the Pistons; nobody cares except Dwight Howard

One of the biggest prizes of this year’s NBA free agent class signed a contract the other day and no one made a peep.

Josh Smith is now a Detroit Piston. That news is not very interesting. I think what will be interesting is if Dwight Howard holds it over the head of the Houston Rockets at some point.

It was reported during the Rockets’ courting of Howard that Dwight asked Rockets GM Daryl Morey if he would be able to do a sign-and-trade for Smith to give the team a third “star” along with him and James Harden. Smith and Howard grew up together in the ATL, playing AAU ball together and forming a certifiable bromance. So Dwight asking if Smith could come to Houston with him was two-fold – he wanted some added firepower and a member of his posse to the team in one fowl swoop.

They just looked so cute together in this photo

They just looked so cute together in this photo.

After Dwight officially chose the Rockets, I’m sure Morey was furiously working the phones trying to get Smith. I’m sure he dangled Omer Asik, Jeremy Lin, Thomas Robinson, some draft picks, maybe even Hakeem Olajuwon or Kenny Smith. The Hawks probably wanted him to give up Chandler Parsons. He probably wouldn’t do it (wise man). And when Smith saw the deal that Andre Igoudala got from the Warriors, he probably wanted something comparable (and indeed he got four years and $56 million from the Pistons). The problem is that the Rockets couldn’t pay him that without getting rid of pretty much the rest of their team besides Howard and Harden and they shouldn’t have wanted to pay him that much because Smith isn’t really all that great of a player.

I have a hunch that Morey never would have wanted to go after Smith in the first place. He’s a good general manager, the one that made the Harden trade, that cleared the cap space needed to sign Howard and drafted Parsons. But when your new star player is asking you to go out and get Josh Smith, I guess you kind of have to oblige. Especially when that star player has a history of trying to whine his way out of town at every chance he gets.

So the question for me becomes will Howard ever use this against Morey and the franchise down the road. When all of a sudden the Rockets can’t make it over the hump and can’t make it past the second round of the Western Conference playoffs for a few consecutive years, will there be grumblings that Howard is unhappy? That they wouldn’t be in the position they were in if they had Smith? I could see it happening. He’s the type that will look to the situation around him and find fault with it rather than taking his game to another level in order to compensate.

Can’t wait to see if this Rocket ship crashes and burns.