Josh Smith returns to starting lineup after benching for missing practice

Josh Smith coming off the bench for Kyle Singler in the Pistons’ loss to the Hawks on Friday was a disciplinary, not strategic, decision by Maurice Cheeks. David Mayo of MLive:

Smith missed practice Thursday after skipping the team flight home from Atlanta, his hometown, on the assumption that the Pistons would have a day off after playing Tuesday and Wednesday.

Smith already planned to stay in Atlanta, then was convinced to do so after learning his father, Pete Smith, was suffering from the flu.

Josh Smith said he was surprised not to see his father in the customary courtside seat where Pete Smith always watched Hawks games involving his son when the Pistons lost Wednesday in Atlanta.

“I consider him my best friend, and so it does bother me,” Josh Smith said.  “When that came about and I didn’t see him in the stands, it really was a shock to me.  I wanted to be able to make sure I took care of that.  That was my main priority, moreso than anything else.”

Smith said he learned about 12:30 a.m. Thursday that Cheeks had scheduled an 11 a.m. practice.  But by then, Smith had skipped the team charter flight.

“Generally, 99.9 percent of the time, on back-to-backs, you have a day off,” Smith said.  “And considering that I was at home and my father was dealing with a real serious illness, I thought it was self-explanatory.  But I should have made better communication on my part, as far as letting these guys know that I was going to stay over.

“I apologized to Joe Dumars and Mo Cheeks the following day.  It’s a situation that’s very minor and I really want to move past it, because it’s a situation where I thought it was a day off.”

The good and most important news is Smith’s dad is feeling better, according to Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News.

In terms of more trivial matters, as Cheeks said would be the case, Smith returned to the starting lineup in a win over the Nets on Sunday. As he should have.

We can get into whether starting Smith is the correct strategic choice at another time. As far as a disciplinary issue, Smith served his punishment – and maybe a little more.

Cheeks’ flexible/disorganized (take your pick) style put Smith in a bind. It seems Smith didn’t communicate well enough, and Cheeks is entitled to call a practice with as much notice as he wants to give. But why did it come to that? Why not announce the practice sooner?

Often, being organized/inflexible (take your pick) makes things go more smoothly.

Smith missing a single practice is no big deal, and it also seems Smith is going out of his way to take the fall. That’s fine here, because the fall came with a minor price, and it will help Smith repair his image as difficult. But I wonder whether this irritated him, whether he learned a lesson or both. We might get a better idea the next time a similar issue comes up, if it does.

But this episode should be firmly in the rearview mirror.

This was a minor transgression, and Smith paid a minor price. He wasn’t fined and wasn’t suspended, but he was embarrassed publically a little bit. I’m not sure he deserved that, but there’s no use protesting a slap on the wrist.

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Tags: Joe Dumars Josh Smith Kyle Singler Maurice Cheeks

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