On April 2012, former NBA veteran center Craig Smith registered his final showcase in the association. After six seasons with the Minnesota Timberwolves, Los Angeles Clippers and Portland Trail Blazers, Smith recorded seven points in seven minutes for Portland during a season finale loss to the Utah Jazz.
Since then, his NBA chapter has been closed, but his basketball journey has continued. Smith, 30, suited up for teams in Israel, China and Sioux Falls of the D-League. With his future unknown and the season about to kick off, Smith signed with his current club, Ironi Nes-Ziona, for a second stint in the Israeli League.
During his first tenure in Israel with power-club Hapoel Jerusalem, Smith was waived after clashing with his head coach. He was unstoppable in the Holy Land, averaging 13.5 points on 70 percent shooting from the field, along with 6.4 rebounds per game. His reputation, however, took a giant hit.
“When I was in Jerusalem, I hit a point where I was at the bottom and had to work my way back up. I felt like I had to start my career over,” Smith told Basketball Insiders.
“After Jerusalem I ended up going to different leagues around the world. I played summer league in China and about a month in a half in the D-League, so I want to show everyone I still got game and can play at a high level.”
With hopes of pursuing an NBA comeback, Smith vowed not to fall off the basketball radar.
“People didn’t know where I was and thought I retired,” said the 6’7 Smith.
Drafted by Minnesota in the 2006 NBA Draft, Smith played a total of 403 NBA contests. He started in 49 games and averaged 7.6 points and 3.9 boards in 16 minutes throughout the course of his NBA career.
Smith was a stud in China and capped his Asian stint as the No. 1 scorer with 30.5 points and 13.3 rebounds over 20 games. He was a force in the guard-oriented D-League, posting 16.2 points and 5.7 boards for the Skyforce.
Dubbed the “Rhino,” Smith is on a mission to resurrect his career and has no problem bullying whoever gets in his path. He was a force for Nes-Ziona earlier this week, tallying 19 points on 9-for-11 shooting from the floor, in addition to drawing eight fouls and grabbing six boards against reigning European champions, Maccabi Tel Aviv.
“I still have NBA aspirations and know I can play at a high level,” Smith said. “Whether it be the NBA or in Israel, I’m always out to prove myself.”
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