After playing very little, Josh Smith is already done with the New Orleans Pelicans.
Once upon a time, Josh Smith was a promising young player with the Atlanta Hawks. He earned a second team All-Defensive selection as a 24-year old in 2010, but his NBA career felt like a lot of unfulfilled potential in pretty short order.
Smith spent the 2016-17 season in China, and averaging 18.8 points, 10.6 rebounds, 3.2 assists and two blocks per game. A report in August pointed to a possible return to the NBA with the Houston Rockets, who Smith played 78 games for over the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons, but nothing came to fruition.
The New Orleans Pelicans had a workout with Smith in late August, and he later signed a training camp deal with a team in Israel. When the Pelicans where thinned by frontcourt injuries early this season, they signed Smith in late October under a hardship exception.
The Pelicans are apparently healthy enough to no longer need Smith’s services.
Smith played just 12 minutes over three games for New Orleans, and he had not gotten off the bench in three straight games and four of the last five. He totaled two points (1-for-4 from the floor), four rebounds and three personal fouls over his time with the Pelicans.
Where Smith will go from here as a basketball player is unclear, at best. Going back overseas somewhere is probably an option, but his last extended NBA sample was not great. Over 55 games with the Clippers and Rockets in 2015-16, Smith averaged 6.0 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game, with more fouls (2.1) that blocked shots (0.9) per contest.
Smith has never been an efficient offensive player or a good shooter, and nothing changed in China last season (28.9 percent from three-point range). So the modern NBA has no place for him, even if he still has the ability to guard multiple positions on the defensive end.