The Detroit Pistons on Monday waived veteran forward Josh Smith, who still had two years and at least $26 million remaining on his contract after this season.
The 29-year-old Smith was averaging 13.1 points, 7.2 rebounds and 4.7 assists per game this season.
“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 and team president 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.”
If Smith clears waivers over the next 48 hours, he will have the right to go elsewhere as a free agent. By choosing to waive Smith now, Detroit will have to pay off what is owed to Smith beyond this season, but the Pistons can reduce the yearly hit to the $5 million range over the next few years with the NBA’s stretch provision.
NBA front-office sources told ESPN.com’s Marc Stein that the Sacramento Kings, Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Clippers are among the teams that will have interest in Smith when he clears waivers Wednesday.
As ESPN.com reported in both June and July, Sacramento tried to tried for Smith, offering various packages that included the likes of Jason Thompson, Derrick Williams and Carl Landry. The Pistons ultimately resisted all such overtures.
Smith was on pace to be the first NBA player to shoot below 40 percent on field goals and below 50 percent on free-throw attempts while taking at least 12 shots per game, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
The Pistons acquired Smith as a free agent after the 2012-13 season. In 105 games with Detroit, he averaged 15.5 points, 6.9 rebounds and 3.7 assists.
Smith was drafted with the 17th overall selection in the 2004 NBA draft by the Atlanta Hawks.