Clippers trade forward Josh Smith back to Houston

Josh Smith, left, ties up Indiana's C.J. Miles.

Josh Smith, left, ties up Indiana’s C.J. Miles.

(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

So much for the Josh Smith experiment.

On Friday, the Clippers sent the 30-year-old power forward to the Houston Rockets, his former team, in a cash deal that also involved the swapping of draft rights to two obscure foreign players.

In July, the Clippers signed then-free-agent Smith to a multiyear deal at the veteran’s minimum.

Last spring, Smith helped the Rockets win the final three games of their second-round playoff series against the Clippers, overcoming a 3-to-1 game deficit. In that series, the Clippers’ bench was badly outplayed by the Rockets. Smith, now in his 11th season in the league, was expected to give the Clippers an immediate impact player coming off the bench.


But Coach Doc Rivers, who is also head of the team’s basketball operations, quickly soured on Smith, in part because of his poor shot selection. Smith has played in only four of the Clippers’ last 14 games.

This season, Smith averaged 5.7 points while shooting only 38% from the field, in 14 minutes of playing time over 32 games with the Clippers.

The Clippers will pick up the remainder of Smith’s salary this season, about $450,000.

“I’m excited. I feel great,” Smith told Fox 26 Houston about the deal. “It’s a place that I probably should have never left.”

Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey tweeted: “Welcome back Josh Smith!”

The Clippers are expected to sign a player to a 10-day contract to fill the extra roster spot.

The team is considering signing former San Antonio Spurs forward Jeff Ayres, now in the NBA D-League. Ayres, who is 6-foot-9, played 51 games last season for the Spurs and averaged 2.7 points and 2.3 rebounds a game.