To add some backcourt depth following the departure of Jeremy Lin for the Los Angeles Lakers, the Houston Rockets have decided to add some speed.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, the Rockets have agreed to a one-year deal with Ishmael Smith worth the league minimum. Smith, who recently served as the backup point guard of the Phoenix Suns last season, was waived a few days ago.
Ish Smith is no Jeremy Lin, and the Rockets shouldn’t be expecting that kind of high-volume scoring of three-point shooting off the bench behind Patrick Beverley. But Smith does bring plenty of speed that could be useful in freeing up all of Houston’s perimeter shooters. Unfortunately for Houston, he shot an abysmal four percent on three-pointers last season while only attempting 0.3 threes per game. Clearly, shooting is not his strong suit.
Where Smith excels is attacking the basket. He only averaged 3.7 points and 2.6 assists in 14.4 minutes per game last season with the Suns, but as you can see, he got very limited minutes behind Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe in the backcourt. At the very least, Smith provides the Rockets with a temporary stopgap in the backcourt until sophomore Isaiah Canaan is ready to assume more responsibility.
I’ll always think highly of Ish Smith because of what he said when I asked in Austin whether he prefered ‘Ish.’ He joked, “Call me Ishmael.”
— Jonathan Feigen (@Jonathan_Feigen) July 17, 2014
The Rockets will have to change how they approach their secondary unit, however. Lin averaged 12.5 points per game and shot nearly 36 percent from downtown last season, but Smith’s strengths involve flying at the basket, often slightly out of control, and either throwing up a ridiculous shot that somehow goes in or finding an open teammate for the dump off, affectionately known as an “Ish Dish” in Phoenix.
In Houston, the Rockets don’t have much firepower coming off the bench. Omer Asik won’t be around to clean up Ish Dishes by the basket. Donatas Motiejunas might be Houston’s best bench player now and will need to step up. Losing that three-point shooting may wind up hurting Houston, who has been reeling this offseason since Chris Bosh was wooed back to Miami by a five-year, $118 million offer.
Houston also lost Chandler Parsons to a three-year, $46 million offer from the Dallas Mavericks. Houston made Parsons a restricted free agent this summer instead of paying his $1 million salary this summer and allowing him to become and unrestricted free agent next summer.