The Houston Rockets now have 19 players under contract after reaching an agreement with rookie center Joshua Smith.
Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel first reported the deal between the undrafted rookie out of Georgetown and the Rockets. The terms and length of the pact are unknown, but it is likely a minimum salary training camp deal.
Smith is a huge post presence, standing at six-foot-10 and weighing 350 pounds. He is very agile, possesses terrific hands, and has good touch around the basket. The 23-year-old is nearly unstoppable when he gets the ball in the post and is very difficult to keep off the boards due to his size and strength. Smith is also a good shot-blocker.
Smith does need to get in better shape physically, which would help him tremendously on the floor. Smith’s weight and conditioning have limited his ability to stay on the floor due to fouls throughout his college career and during summer league action with the Miami Heat. He also has trouble finishing with his left hand and at the free throw line.
Smith averaged 10.8 points and 5.8 rebounds while shooting 62.1 percent from the floor as a senior last year. He also averaged 3.5 fouls and shot 64.6 percent from the charity stripe in 20.5 minutes of action. Smith began his college career at UCLA.
Smith essentially produced the same output as he did his senior season this summer for the Heat. In nine games for the Heat’s summer league squad, Smith averaged 5.0 points and 4.0 boards while seeing 11.7 minutes of action per contest. He never scored in double figures but hauled in at least five caroms in three games, including eight in 14 minutes of action against the Sacramento Kings on July 17.
Smith has a chance at making the Rockets opening night roster if he has a strong training camp. The Rockets, who have 14 players with guaranteed contracts, are a little thin up front. Smith will join Dwight Howard, Clint Capela, Terrence Jones, Montrezl Harrell, Donatas Motiejunas, and Chris Walker as the players who will battle for minutes at the power forward and center spots. Howard is the unquestioned starter at center while the starting job at power forward could be up for grabs.
Motiejunas was expected to be in the mix for starting spot, however, Fox Sports is reporting that the seven-footer is not expected to be ready when training camp opens. Motiejunas is still recovering from a back injury that ended his season after 71 games last year and forced him to miss all of the postseason.
In all likelihood, the final spot will come down to Smith and Walker, who signed with the team earlier this month after going undrafted out of the University of Florida. Walker along with guards Remi Yusuf, Will Cummings, and Denzel Livingston hold non-guaranteed deals.
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