Smith embracing ‘new beginning’ in Houston
HOUSTON (AP) Josh Smith has been a nice addition to the contending Houston Rockets and simply ignores those who credit Detroit’s recent success to his release.
After all, the Rockets have been doing just fine lately, too.
The Pistons have gone 11-2 since he was let go in the second season of a four-year, $54 million contract, causing some to throw around the phrase ”addition by subtraction” when discussing their recent turnaround.
”It didn’t upset me,” Smith said. ”People have opinions and talk about things in the media that they don’t necessarily personally know anything about. So you really can’t let that affect what’s going on.”
The 29-year-old forward still communicates with a number of the Pistons and is pleased to see them doing well after their early season struggles. He added that many of his detractors don’t know the ”true story” of what happened in Detroit.
”They made decisions that they thought was beneficial to their team,” he said. ”I wish them nothing but success, but I’m just focusing on what I can do to help this team win games.”
The negativity certainly hasn’t slowed him down with Houston, where he’s averaged 10.4 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.1 assists in 14 games.
He started four games early, but acknowledged that he needed more time to adjust to his new team and has thrived since moving into a reserve role, averaging almost 12 points in those games.
The Rockets have gone 6-3 in the nine games in which he’s come off the bench after starting and they entered Sunday’s game 28-13 and in second place in the Southwest Division of the Western Conference. At this point, he isn’t worried about returning to the starting lineup.
”For right now, this is what’s having the team so successful,” he said. ”I’m all (for) doing what it takes for us to win. I’m willing to do whatever it takes.”
He called his opportunity in Houston a ”new beginning,” and is feeling much more confident on the court now that he’s had some time to adjust.
”It was very, very crazy,” he said of his first few days with the Rockets. ”It was the first time in my career it happened and having to move everything and get myself acclimated to the team was an adventure, but it was also kind of nerve wracking. But everything is starting to smooth itself out.”
Coach Kevin McHale is pleased that the Rockets were able to add a veteran player of Smith’s caliber to a team that already has stars Dwight Howard and NBA leading-scorer James Harden.
”Josh brings an ability to handle the ball, pass the ball. He’s a good distributor. He breaks people down off the dribble,” McHale said. ”So I think Josh is getting a little more comfortable with what we’re doing and I think he’s going to continue to help us.”
Smith is happy in Houston where he’s been reunited with Howard, a childhood friend and AAU teammate who was the best man in his wedding.
”This is a guy that I’ve known since preschool and for us to be able to play together at the highest level of basketball, it’s definitely a blessing,” Smith said, ”and we’re relishing the moment and maximizing our potential as much as possible while we’re together.”
And Houston’s big man is the first to take up for Smith when it comes to the situation in Detroit, where he was averaging 13.1 points a game before his release.
”That team is playing pretty good basketball right now, but so are we,” Howard said. ”He’s been a great piece for us and a great addition. You can’t really focus on what everybody else is saying, all you can do is control what you do on the floor.”
Howard is no stranger to criticism himself after his tumultuous season with the Lakers where there were rumblings that he had problems with Kobe Bryant.
”When you leave somebody, the first thing they want to do is try to figure out all your flaws and try to expose them to the world,” Howard said. ”In this profession, you’ve got to understand that and not allow that to affect your mind.”