An five-person ESPN panel was recently asked whether Josh Smith would be a good fit with the Pistons. The question got four “bad fits” and one “good fit … maybe.” Tom Haberstroh had what reflects the consensus opinion:
Bad fit. Did the Infamous Summer of 2009 not teach Dumars anything? Cap space to Detroit is like a bright light to a mosquito: It looks cool, but it doesn’t get you anywhere. As a non-glamour market, the Pistons often find themselves egregiously overpaying free agents (see: Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva). Better to let Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond blossom than have Smith poison the frontcourt with horrible shots.
But there’s an issue here. Smith and Iguodala are the thing on the table that makes the good meal taste great. It doesn’t make the meal. You can’t have that as the main serving. You’ll either: A) get sick, or B) hate it and never want to eat it again.
Smith needs structure, order and high expectations. He has always played in Atlanta, where the general idea was "Oh, hey. We’re not bad! Neat!" He needs a very strong system and a consistent floor leader to keep him tuned in and away from mid-range shots. He needs someone to drive the best out of him. A young and up-and-coming team on a max contract is not a great place for him.
It’s 2013, and James and a big free agency class are set to enter free agency next year. Can the Pistons avoid their temptation to try to skip ahead and stay with the process? Their decision on the wing could determine if they get stuck in purgatory again.
I don’t find Smith an ideal fit, but the Pistons have a chance to upgrade their roster, which for better or worse, they seem intent on doing right now. I think the opinion against Smith mostly stems from the idea that whomever Joe Dumars signs with his cap space will fail, and that’s unfair. Whatever questions people had about Charlie Villanueva and Ben Gordon in 2009 – and there were plenty and should have been more – nobody expected them to fall off like this.
Villanueva and Gordon were both in their mid 20s when they signed with Detroit, but Villanueva hasn’t even coming close to matching his last Bucks season since. Even more surprising, Gordon hasn’t had a single season since the signing as good as any of his five years in Chicago.
But they are the exception to the rule. Dumars shouldn’t fear signing another free agent just because the last two didn’t work.
Would Smith work in Detroit? I don’t know, but I think people are writing off the fit for the wrong reasons.