The Houston Rockets missed out on Chris Bosh in free agency this summer. They might have just made up for it. Per reports, the team had previously guaranteed Josh Smith a starting role and the former Piston and Hawk has committed to signing with the team once/if he clears waivers at 5:00 pm Eastern on Wednesday evening.

Smith reportedly has a close relationship with center Dwight Howard and the signing is a near-lock. The question is, what does it mean for the Houston Rockets’ title hopes? Already a legit contender to reach and possibly win this year’s NBA Finals thanks to an elite offense and defense, the Rockets could push themselves over the hump by bringing in Smith.


As good of a player as Smith can be, however, he could also end up being a signing that blows up in Houston’s face. Smith is historically known as an inefficient jump shooter who takes too many bad shots, particularly at long or mid-range. Smith brings terrific athleticism and defensive ability to the table and can hit the outside shot at a solid rate for a guy who plays the four spot. He’s now flamed out at his last two stops, however, and was arguably a bust signing with the Detroit Pistons.

Smith is an electrifying athlete and can contribute on the boards, with blocks and in scoring. However, he’s struggled mightily with efficiency throughout his career and it’s at least questionable if he can get it done at the four spot for the Rockets.

The Next Step

Houston made the playoffs last year in Dwight Howard’s first season with the team, but they were unable to get out of the first round due to some major issues at power forward. On paper, Smith could correct those issues, as he gives them outside shooting and another body that can capably defend. That’s on paper, though. For this signing to end up paying off, Smith needs to be convinced to finally be a true team player. That’s going to mean a major change in his playing style, better shot selection and a commitment to doing work down low in the post.

With the Rockets guaranteeing Smith a starting spot, that pushes both Terrence Jones and Donatas Motiejunas back to the bench for good. That’s not the best news for Houston’s immediate continuity, but in the long-term it at the very worst gives them two very solid big men that can score off the bench. By signing “Smoove”, the Rockets upgraded their starting five and by default also upgraded their depth. Whether it leads to a title surely remains to be determined, but on paper Houston’s arguably has increased their odds.

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