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Where Will Josh Smith Land?

The Pistons have waived Josh Smith, but the veteran forward can still help multiple teams.

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Citing the need for an adjustment, the Detroit Pistons used the stretch provision on Josh Smith early Monday. Smith signed a four-year, $54 million deal with Detroit in free agency back in 2013, but the forward never made the impact the franchise desired and some would argue that he negatively impacted the Pistons’ young frontcourt of Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe.

But even though Smith’s tenure in Detroit proved to be disappointing, the 29-year-old forward still posted 15.5 points, 6.9 rebounds and 3.7 assists in 105 games with the team. Those stats are hard to ignore, especially for teams around the league looking for frontcourt production.

Smith was owed $27 million the next two seasons. His remaining salary for this year will be paid as scheduled, and the remainder will be spread out in $5.4 million annual payments over the next five years. So, the prospect of signing a high dollar deal likely won’t be at the top of Smith’s priority list.

Smith is talented and can help teams, but where would be a good fit? Here are some options around the league:

Miami HEAT

The HEAT (13-15) are clinging to the seventh spot in the Eastern Conference. All-Stars Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade are both nursing injuries and free agent signee Josh McRoberts was recently lost for the foreseeable future. Head coach Erik Spoelstra preaches defensive intensity and few would argue against Smith’s ability on that side of the ball. With a potential low cap hit and the HEAT’s lack of depth on the interior, Smith could be an option in South Beach.

Houston Rockets

For starters, Smith and Rockets center Dwight Howard are childhood friends. Secondly, the Rockets have been without Terrence Jones for the majority of the season and he was expected to play the lion’s share of starter’s minutes in the rotation at the power forward spot. With the Dallas Mavericks recently acquiring four-time All-Star Rajon Rondo in a trade last week, Houston may have to make a splash in order to keep up with the rest of the West.

Los Angeles Lakers

While Kobe Bryant continues to defy Father Time and puts on a nightly display of offensive prowess, make no mistake, the Lakers (8-19) are reeling. The team lost promising rookie forward Julius Randle for the season in the club’s opening game, veteran forward Carlos Boozer has been called out at times by head coach Byron Scott on numerous occasions and the team lacks depth on the inside. The addition of Smith wouldn’t make the Lakers a playoff team, but the team would become more competitive on a nightly basis.

Sacramento Kings

The Kings’ front office has been attempting to land another marquee (name) player into their fold for quite some time. Smith would be an immediate upgrade over the Kings’ current platoon at power forward of Jason Thompson, Carl Landry and Reggie Evans. The question is chemistry. How would Smith mesh with center DeMarcus Cousins and forward Rudy Gay – the Kings’ top two players in the rotation?

New York Knicks

The big question is could Smith truly adapt to the triangle offense in New York? That’s a big question for sure, but the Knicks lack talent up and down the rotation and Smith was a borderline All-Star performer in recent years. All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony needs help and taking a flier on Smith wouldn’t be the biggest risk (assuming a minimum price tag).

Memphis Grizzlies

Smith heading to Memphis is a long shot. But when you think of the type of basketball the Grizzlies have imposed on their opponents – hard nose, defensive tenacity, nothing easy – it seems to play right into the core of Smith’s strengths as a player on the defensive end. The question is would Smith be willing to play just 18-20 minutes per night behind Zach Randolph in the rotation.

Los Angeles Clippers

In need of depth on the frontline and limited in how they can address it since they are hard capped, the Clippers are appealing to Smith because of the structure they have in place. Chris Paul and Doc Rivers would ensure Smith is properly utilized to his strengths – something that never happened in Detroit, where they consistently put him in positions he wasn’t best suited for.

Dallas Mavericks

Newly acquired point guard Rajon Rondo is one of Smith’s best friends in the league, stemming back from their time at Oak Hill Academy together in high school. Rondo isn’t calling the shots in Dallas, but the team’s depth took a hit after acquiring him and he would be a nice addition to their second unit. With a playmaker like Rondo, you can never have enough finishers.

Expect Smith to take some time to explore his options and really figure out which team is the best fit for him rather than just going to the highest-paying suitor like he did during free agency in 2013 – a decision that clearly didn’t work out. But, by week’s end, or the weekend at the latest, we should know where he’s going to try to kick-start his career.

Lang Greene is a senior NBA writer for Basketball Insiders and has covered the NBA for the last 10 seasons

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