Josh Smith has been with the Hawks for the past nine seasons. (Noah Graham / Getty Images)
The Pistons did the right thing by standing on Josh Smith’s doorstep as soon as free agency began Monday morning.
He needs to be the main target on a team badly in need of a trigger man. And the Pistons must do everything they can to sign him -- which they appear to be doing.
This is an important move for the Pistons. By signing Smith it would show they can outbid other teams and get their man. That has not really happened before in free agency. The Pistons have not brought in elite free agents. They signed Chauncey Billups in 2002, and the Larry Brown remake made him look a lot better in Detroit than any other place.
Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva were panic targets in 2009 because the Pistons knew they could not get into the real free-agent market the following season when LeBron James and Chris Bosh were destined to be the big targets.
Smith would represent the most polished and accomplished free agent in Pistons history. And he would help this team at least make the playoffs. That is how much talent he has.
I’d even be willing to take a risk on a guy who is not a great chemistry guy and could possibly turn the dressing room sour if things don’t go right for him.
I’ve seen Smith where he appeared to be a man playing against boys. He can be strong and physical. He is athletic and has superior strength. He does something no other Piston outside of Andre Drummond can do. He can attack the basket with a vengeance.
Even though the Pistons also met with Denver’s Andre Iguodala on Monday, Smith should be their No. 1 target. Smith, 28, is a little younger than Iguodala, 29, and he is a better defender. Smith has been a solid shot blocker, and last season he became an above-average defender.
Smith’s flaws are hard to ignore. He sometimes floats and disappears and becomes one of those guys that make you hate watching the NBA. He also gets a little full of himself and takes horrific shots that have little chance of going in the basket.
The guy can also be a jerk. In his defense, it is easy to become frustrated in Atlanta. Maybe Smith could be more focused in a town that is more passionate about sports than Atlanta. A town like Detroit.
As for Iguodala, he falls in love with his jump shot more often than Smith. Although Iguodala is a superior athlete and is a smart player, he is easy to figure out. You do not need to press up on Iguodala; let him shoot himself out of games. That might explain why he has averaged just 12.4 points and 13.0 points per game the last two seasons.
Iguodala is a solid player with nice skills but he is not special. But when a guy thinks he is special, he tries to do things that do not fit his game set.
Smith is not the perfect fit. The problem is the perfect fit will never come through the Palace doors unless it is through the draft. The Pistons need punch. The Pistons need to be relevant again.
If the Pistons sign Smith, the Heat, Bulls and Nets won’t be shaking in their boots. But it would give the Pistons a better opportunity to get on the path to relevance again.