The dish from Ish: Smith goes in on 5 Pistons newcomers

Ish Smith says the Pistons added great veteran savvy in free agency with Jose Calderon and Zaza Pachulia.
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by Keith Langlois
Web Editor

AUBURN HILLS – Ish Smith, a survivor of eight NBA seasons despite going undrafted, turned 30 over the summer. He’s a point guard by trade, generously listed at 6-foot-0 in your program. It wasn’t so long ago he’d signed as many 10-day contracts as autographs.

You don’t get where Smith has been or gotten to without a peerless ability to size things up. And with that, here’s Smith – entering his third season with the Pistons after playing for nine other franchises in his first six seasons – on the five newcomers the Pistons added to an otherwise stable roster over the off-season.

  • Jose Calderon – “I’ve been playing against Jose since I was in the league. Jose’s so savvy. I said, ‘I’m going to need you. Talk to me. Encourage me.’ We might be out there together. (Dwane Casey) doesn’t have positions, as you know. Last year, I remember he had Kyle (Lowry), (Fred) Van Vleet and Delon (Wright) out there.”

    All three are point guards, Smith’s point being that he wouldn’t be surprised if Casey used Smith, Calderon and Reggie Jackson in some combination at various points.

    “With Coach, it doesn’t matter. He’ll put four guards out there and one big. He might put Stanley (Johnson) at the five. Who knows? Coach plays with whatever’s working. Jose is such a savvy veteran and plays with so much confidence, so smart.”

  • Zaza Pachulia – “Zaza just knows how to play the game. He’s a champion. Some of the ways he got those guys open, his defensive prowess, how he plays. When you’re around him, he’s a good dude. When you’re on the other team, you kind of fear him in a sense. It’s not a bad fear. He sets great picks, but he’s so savvy and smart. He made a statement the other day. I passed the ball and I had a switch and instead of passing it and getting it back, I went one on one – kind of like the old way coaching was. You’ve got a switch, you’ve got to attack.

    “Zaza said, ‘What do most bigs do? We relax. Then when you get it back, you’ve got a shot or drive. You can play off the dribble.’ And it makes so much sense. Instead of a live dribble when they’re going to be able to play with length and contest you. They bring so much leadership, those two. Zaza and Jose are constantly talking to us. Zaza is going to be huge when it comes to leadership. Jose will be with the point guards and the guards.”

  • Glenn Robinson III – “Glenn is special. His ability to shoot the ball, drive the ball, his athletic ability. He’s really good defensively, but he can just play – just knows how to play. He knows the right position, right play, when to cut. And his athletic ability jumps out.

    “I played with Glenn when he was in Philadelphia. We were in Philadelphia together, so me and him built a great relationship. When we played Indiana, we would talk during the game, after the game.”

  • Bruce Brown and Khyri Thomas – “Bruce, he has the body of a man. He’s got a grown man’s body. Strong, he’s athletic, he can shoot the ball. He has a lot of skills. Khyri is just so smooth, so savvy. He knows how to play. He just has a confidence in the way he moves and the way he plays. It might not be flashy, but he’ll have 17 at the end of the game. It’s kind of like when we watch Reggie (Bullock) play. He’ll be 9 of 13, 25 points. You’d be like, I didn’t even see him. They know how to play. Nothing is rushed. So those two are really, really special.”
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