Smith created a stir long before he played his first game when he said that signing with the
He was an active participant in a locker room yelling spree after a loss to Toronto in November and barked at Clippers Coach
Most importantly, the 30-year-old Smith never resembled the borderline All-Star he had been earlier in his career with the
Smith fell out of the playing rotation last month and disappeared altogether Friday when the Clippers traded him along with the rights to Sergei Lishchuk and enough cash to cover the prorated portion of his veteran's minimum contract to the
The trade wasn't about what the Clippers were getting but what they were ridding themselves of: an unhappy, unproductive player who could have become a distraction. The move also saved them more than $2 million in luxury taxes.
"He was very good, a good teammate and all that," said Rivers, who is also the team's president of basketball operations, "but it just doesn't work and so we wanted to go in another direction."
The Clippers are expected to fill the open roster spot by signing power forward Jeff Ayres to a 10-day contract over the weekend. Ayres, 28, most recently played for the
Houston knows what it's getting in Smith, having acquired him in December 2014 after his disastrous 1 1/2 seasons with the Pistons. He was a valuable part of the Rockets' push to the Western Conference finals, scorching the Clippers for 19 points in Game 6 of the conference semifinals as part of a comeback from a 19-point deficit in the third quarter.
Smith never recaptured that form with the Clippers, averaging career lows in points (5.7), rebounds (3.9), blocks (1.1), field-goal accuracy (38.3%) and minutes (14.3) in 32 games. The 11-year veteran is a better stylistic fit with the Rockets, who place a higher value on three-pointers and won't mind as much if Smith's 31.0% accuracy from long range continues. He's also a childhood friend of Houston center
"It's kind of kudos to Doc as far as sending him somewhere that he's comfortable with and somewhere that they know him and he knows them and probably will be a better fit," said Clippers shooting guard Jamal Crawford, who also played with Smith for two seasons with the Atlanta Hawks.
The other players involved in the trade are not expected to play in the
Smith maintained a mostly positive demeanor publicly, acknowledging that a major role was never guaranteed as part of the Clippers' summer roster overhaul that included eight new players.
"We knew that we were going to sacrifice things coming to this ballclub," Smith said late last month. "There are so many talented guys. If I was the head coach, I would be confused about what lineup I had because there are so many guys that's done so many productive things in this league up to this point. Anybody who plays, you can't argue with. You just have to be ready. You never know what the future might hold."
Times correspondent Eric Pincus contributed to this report.
Follow Ben Bolch on Twitter: @latbbolch
MORE CLIPPERS NEWS