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Pistons release forward Josh Smith with two years, $26M left on contract

Pistons released veteran forward Josh Smith less than two years after signing him in free agency
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The Detroit Pistons released forward Josh Smith less than two years after signing him in free agency, the team announced.

Smith will be a free agent if he clears waivers. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports reports the Houston Rockets are "aggressively pursuing" Smith after trying to acquire him when he was a free agent in 2013. The Los Angeles Clippers will also look into signing him, according to Wojnarowski.

The Miami Heat, who could be without power forward Josh McRoberts for the rest of the season, are also interested in signing Smith, according to ESPN's Marc Stein.

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Smith’s tenure with the Pistons lasted just 105 games. He averaged 13.1 points, 7.2 rebounds and 4.7 assists per game this season for the Pistons, who have gotten off to a 5-23 start under first-year head coach Stan Van Gundy.

“In fairness to Josh, being a highly versatile 10-year veteran in this league, we feel it’s best to give him his freedom to move forward. We have full respect for Josh as a player and a person," Van Gundy, who is also the team's president of basketball operations, said in a statement.

Van Gundy then laid out plans for the future of his team.

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“Our team has not performed the way we had expected throughout the first third of the season and adjustments need to be made in terms of our focus and our direction,” Van Gundy said. "We are shifting priorities to aggressively develop our younger players while also expanding the roles of other players in the current rotation to improve performance and build for our future. As we expand certain roles, others will be reduced."

Smith signed a four-year, $54 million deal in the summer of 2013 after spending his first nine seasons with the Atlanta Hawks. He has career averages of 15.4 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game.

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