Forward Depth Continues With Josh Smith Signing

Rowan Kavner

LOS ANGELES – Josh Smith is the latest versatile forward to join the Clippers.

Smith officially signed Thursday afternoon, continuing to bolster the newfound depth at the forward spots for the Clippers, who already added Paul Pierce, Wesley Johnson, Lance Stephenson and second-round pick Branden Dawson this offseason.

Most of Smith’s career was spent in Atlanta, playing nine seasons for the Hawks, before playing the 2013-14 season in Detroit and splitting the 2014-15 season between Detroit and Houston. It was in Houston where Smith finished last season, as Clippers fans are well aware.

Smith scored 19 points on 5-of-9 shooting in Game 6 of the second round against the Clippers and 15 points on 6-of-10 shooting in Game 7 to help the Rockets reach the Western Conference Finals.

After averaging 12.4 points, 6.4 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.4 blocks between the Pistons and Rockets during the regular season last year, Smith went on to average 13.5 points while shooting a postseason career-high 38 percent from 3-point range in the playoffs. For his career, Smith holds career averages of 15.1 points, 7.7 rebounds, 3.2 assists and two blocks per game.

The 11-year veteran can serve a multitude of roles and has experience both as a starter and bench player. He’s started 765 of his 836 career games, but he only started seven of his 55 regular season games for the Rockets last season. They changed that strategy after the Clippers took a 3-1 lead in the series, as Smith was then inserted into the starting lineup.

Smith, a career 45.5 percent shooter, shot 43.8 percent from the field last year while playing for the Rockets. But Smith, a career 28.5 percent 3-point shooter, found better spacing in Houston and finished with one of his better deep shooting years, hitting 33 percent of his shots from 3-point range with the Rockets.

With Smith on the court last season, the Rockets scored 7.4 more points per 100 possessions than they allowed. With Smith off the court, they allowed more points per 100 possessions than they scored. His net rating in Houston was twice as high as the Rockets’ net rating as a team.

The Clippers, who already have one of the league’s best passing big men in Blake Griffin, now add another frontcourt player adept at that skill in Smith, who’s averaged at least three assists per game in each of his last six seasons.

Despite the Clippers’ cap restraints this offseason, they’ve continued to fill the roster on the cheap with pieces who’ve contributed at high levels in the NBA. Smith was recognized for his defensive contributions in 2010, when he was named to the NBA’s All-Defensive Second Team. That same year he became the youngest player ever to record 1,000 career blocks. He also won the 2005 NBA Slam Dunk Contest his rookie season.