Forward Josh Smith is leaving the Hawks after nine seasons. Smith, one of the top players in this year's free-agent class, has agreed to a four-year, $56 million deal with the Pistons, according to Yahoo! Sports and USA Today Sports.
Smith, 27, averaged 17.5 points, 8.4 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 1.8 blocks and 1.2 steals for the Hawks last season. The Georgia native, a talented, explosive two-way forward who was drafted out of high school by Atlanta in 2004, helped lead the Hawks to playoff appearances in each of the last six seasons. But general manager Danny Ferry's arrival last summer signaled a new era for the Hawks. Smith's departure is another major step in a roster retooling under Ferry, who traded core pieces Joe Johnson and Marvin Williams last summer.
In Detroit, Smith adds a veteran bent to a talented front line that includes 23-year-old Greg Monroe and 19-year-old Andre Drummond. How those three will fit together is unclear. If all three start, that pushes Smith to the small-forward position, where his shaky perimeter shooting will stick out like a sore thumb. It would be a shame if Smith's addition cut meaningfully into Drummond's playing time, which could happen if new coach Maurice Cheeks decides he prefers a power forward/center combination of Smith and Monroe.
Longtime Jazz forward Paul Millsap is set to replace Smith in Atlanta. He agreed to a two-year, $19 million contract with Atlanta on Friday. Grade: D. For months, everyone worried about Smith's getting overpaid in free agency. For months, everyone worried about what Pistons president Joe Dumars -- who previously signed disasters Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva -- would do once he had a substantial amount of cap space. Here, those two worries meet in a head-on collision. Smith's final haul, $14 million per year, is actually less than The Point Forward thought it might be. Still, it's too much, particularly on this roster and particularly when compared to Millsap's sweetheart deal. Dumars' hope, apparently, is that Smith adds a bit of "wow" factor to what has been a depressing team and that he can find a way to carry the Pistons into the playoff picture with a number of competitors racing to the bottom in advance of the 2014 lottery. Good luck with that?