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Suitors line up for Josh 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.

“Josh brings a lot to the game — his intangibles, he can make plays, rebound, defend,” Rondo said. “He’d be a good fit anywhere, but especially here I think he’d be a good fit.”

Smith would be eligible only for the veteran’s minimum salary with the Mavericks.

“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 direction,” coach Stan Van Gundy said in a statement. “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.

“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.”

Smith was acquired by the Pistons as a free agent on July 10, 2013. Drafted with the 17th overall selection in the 2004 NBA Draft 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).

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