Meet Joe Smith

Maybe it’s the name. Maybe it’s his workmanlike style of play or his no-nonsense attitude. But Joe Smith might be one of the best NBA players you don’t know much about.

Smith made his way to Cleveland one week ago when Cavaliers GM pulled off one of the biggest trades in franchise history, acquiring Smith – along with Ben Wallace – from the Chicago Bulls in exchange for Larry Hughes, Drew Gooden, Cedric Simmons and Shannon Brown.

Joe Smith is having one of his finest seasons as a pro – quite an accomplishment in an already-accomplished 12-year career. This season, he’s averaging 11.2 points and 5.3 rebounds in 22.9 minutes per game and has career averages of 12.0 points and 6.9 rebounds in 866 career contests.

The former No. 1 overall pick and father of three has already fit into the frontcourt nicely. He’s hit 15 of his first 24 shot attempts as a Cavalier and if you’ve noticed the big smile from the minute he took the floor, it’s because most of those 24 shots have been open looks because of LeBron James. went one-on-one to find out a little more about the Cavaliers’ newest big man …

It seems like you’ve been playing with a smile on your face since you got to Cleveland.

I always try to keep a smile on my face, regardless of what’s going on. In order for me to play this game and be effective, I have to be having fun. So I try to go out every night, have fun, keep a smile on my face. But at the same time, I know it’s about business and playing hard.

Walk us through your day last Thursday when you knew you were coming to the Cavaliers.

Well, you always hear your name in rumors, but I didn’t know until the last minute.

We had practice that morning in Chicago and after practice, we kind of split ways and when I left the gym I got a phonecall from my agent right before the deadline that my name was being brought up in this trade. I told him, ‘If you can make it happen, make it happen.’

If not, I would be content with staying put, but once it went down, I was pretty happy about it.

I looked at the situation and I looked at this team – obviously I’ve been watching it from afar – but I looked at the situation and which direction this team is headed and that’s something you want to be a part of.

You’ve had a very solid 12-year NBA career, but it seems like you’ve always flown under the radar. Does that
bother you?

I kind of like it that way. I was joking with my wife about it after the trade went down. They talked about every player that was involved in the trade except me, you know. I said, ‘Yeah, I’m still under the radar. That’s a good thing.’

I’m not one of those guys who’s out to prove people wrong. I just want to go out and play my game and get to spots where I’m comfortable. LeBron’s always going to draw two or three guys, so I just want to do my job and knock down shots. But, it’s always good to be under the radar.

So many big men have come and gone since you’ve been in the league. How have you been able to stay so
consistent over the years?

Just preparation. Every summer I have a strenuous workout to try to keep my body as healthy as possible. I’m continuously working on my game, working on shots. And if you put out a consistent effort, your game is going to be consistent.

And every time I take the floor, my goal is to outwork my opponent. Most nights, it works. Sometimes it doesn’t.

How do you see yourself fitting in with the Cavaliers’ frontcourt?

I think it’s going to be good. Coming off the bench, my thing is to just provide energy when I come into the game, one way or another. I’ve played both roles – I’ve been a starter and I’ve come off the bench – so I know how to prepare myself either way.

I just want to bring some kind of spark, some kind of energy from the bench.

On Wednesday night, you went against Kevin Garnett, who’s a former teammate but also somebody you
were in a movie with when you played Connie Hawkins in “Rebound: The Legend of Earl Manigault.” How
did that come about?

We had the same agent at the time and our agent was contacted by the people doing the movie. So it was myself, KG, Mitchell Butler, Pooh Richardson. Our agent was just contacted by the casting director for the movie about playing certain parts.

Is acting something you’ve been interested in?

I mean, I wouldn’t mind. But at the time, I wasn’t. It kind of caught me off guard. But they just asked me if I wanted to be part of it.

Talk about your musical ambitions and your studio.

I built one (studio) in my house in Milwaukee, but the place I had in Chicago, there’s just equipment in the basement.

I do a lot of recording. I’ve done about 400 songs, or so. I’ve just never had anything put out to the public. But just as far as recording, I’ve done about 400 songs.

Do you come from a musical family?

My sisters were pretty good singers. My mom and three of my sisters were all in the church choir, so I wouldn’t say they were professional, but they were all good.

Can you sing as well?

No, I can’t sing. (Laughs.) I can’t sing.