Worst free agent signing in Detroit Pistons history: Josh Smith
4 years, $60 million
Proud NBA franchises will often do desperate things to gain respectability. The more losing that occurs, the more likely wholesale changes will happen. That often leads to bold (or foolish) moves that often merely accelerate those personnel changes. Such was the case for the Detroit Pistons in 2013.
After reaching the Eastern Conference Finals for six consecutive seasons from 2002 to 2008, the Pistons quickly fell apart and missed four straight postseasons by the time 2013 rolled around. Joe Dumars and the front office were desperate to make a move. They saw an opportunity to add to a strong young frontcourt of Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe.
The problem is that their opportunity manifested in signing former Atlanta Hawks forward Josh Smith to a four-year, $60 million contract. Smith was a do-it-all piece on perennial playoff teams in Atlanta, filling the stat-sheet and providing highlight plays.
In Detroit, he was slotted in at small forward alongside Monroe and Drummond, in direct contrast to the spacing-focused Hawks, who deployed Al Horford alongside Smith. With the court shrunken, Smith struggled to score efficiently, shooting 41.3 percent from the floor in 105 games with the Pistons.
He was rather incapable of helping the Pistons win, and they did not reach the postseason with him on the roster. Worse, he clashed with the players present on the roster and was probably a part of Greg Monroe leaving.
Early in the 2014-15 NBA season, after Joe Dumars was replaced by Stan Van Gundy in a coach-front office dual role, Smith was sent packing, as the team released him just two months into the season. His salary was stretched out over the next six years, meaning they will still be paying him for one more season. It’s a terrible, extended end to a bad marriage.