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NBA roundup: Rockets, Heat pursue Smith

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The Houston Rockets and Miami Heat are the leading contenders to sign former Detroit Pistons forward Josh Smith, who was waived with two years and at least $26 million remaining on his contract after this season.

The 6-foot-9, 225-pound Smith has averaged 13.1 points, 7.2 rebounds and 4.7 assists this season. In 105 games with the Pistons, he averaged 15.5 points, 6.9 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game.

Dwight Howard was leading the Houston Rockets recruiting effort. Rajon Rondo said Monday night that he also reached out to Smith, hoping the Dallas Mavericks would be appealing to the versatile big man.

Smith was acquired by the Pistons as a free agent in July 2013. Drafted with the 17th overall selection in 2004 by the Atlanta Hawks, Smith has averaged 15.4 points, 7.8 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 2.0 blocks and 34.2 minutes in 781 career games (758 starts).

—Kawhi Leonard is dealing with a unique hand injury that San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich called “very problematic.”

Leonard said he expects to be back soon, but Popovich has serious doubts about that.

“I don’t think that’s accurate,” Popovich said. “He got another injection yesterday. One of the doctors said he’s been doing hands for 40 years and it’s the first time he’s ever seen this injury. It’s a little bit unique.”

Leonard is averaging 15.2 points, 7.6 rebounds and 2.5 assists this season for San Antonio (18-11). He will likely miss his fifth consecutive game Christmas Day when the Spurs play the Oklahoma City Thunder.

—Forward Kevin Durant missed his third straight game with a sprained right ankle on Tuesday night when the Oklahoma City Thunder faced the Portland Trail Blazers.

Durant sprained the ankle on Thursday night during a game against the Golden State Warriors just before halftime.

The reigning NBA Most Valuable Player is averaging 22.4 points, 5.0 rebounds and 3.6 assists this season in nine games this season. The 26-year-old missed the Thunder’s first 17 games after undergoing foot surgery in October.

–Brooklyn Nets point guard Deron Williams sat out Tuesday’s game with the Denver Nuggets because of a strained right calf.

Williams missed his second game of the season after suffering the injury during the second quarter of Friday night’s 95-91 loss in Cleveland. On Saturday, Williams had an MRI that revealed a low grade calf strain.

The 30-year-old also has been mentioned in recent trade rumors. Numerous reports indicated there had been talks between the Nets and Sacramento Kings about a deal that would sent Williams to Sacramento for point guard Darren Collison and forwards Jason Thompson and Derrick Williams. On Tuesday, an ESPN report indicated those talks have cooled because of the Nets’ unwillingness to include second-year center Mason Plumlee.

—The Philadelphia 76ers signed free agent power forward Malcolm Thomas and waived forward Ronnie Turiaf.

Signed by the 76ers on Oct. 27, Thomas appeared in five regular-season games, averaging 4.0 points and 5.0 rebounds in 14 minutes per game. He averaged 18 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks in 12 combined games for Los Angeles and Austin of the NBA Developmental League last season, and was named a D-League All-Star.

Turiaf was acquired in last week’s trade that sent guard Alexey Shved to the Houston Rockets.

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.

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