Pistons set to add free-agent G Ish Smith

Rod Beard
The Detroit News
Ish Smith

Orlando, Fla. — It might not be the big name that fans were seeking, but it looks like the Pistons got one of the pieces they coveted in free agency.

The Pistons reached an agreement with Ish Smith on a three-year deal to solidify their bench as their backup point guard, a source told The Detroit News on Friday.

The source requested anonymity because the deal has not been finalized.

Terms of the agreement were not immediately available.

Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer reported Friday morning that the deal is for $18 million, citing an unnamed source. Players and teams can make verbal agreements but contracts can’t be signed until July 7.

Smith, 27, has played for nine teams in six years, including the Pelicans and Sixers last season. He was traded from New Orleans to Philadelphia — his second stint with the Sixers — for two second-round picks in December.

At 6-feet, 175 pounds, Smith is regarded as a speedy, athletic and smart point guard. He averaged 14.7 points, 4.3 rebounds and 7.0 assists, starting in all 50 games, with the Sixers. Smith started just three of 27 games with the Pelicans, posting 8.9 points, 3.4 rebounds and 5.7 assists.

Smith will back up starter Reggie Jackson and likely will come at a low cost, as he made just $1.1 million last season.

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The Pistons entered free agency with about $21 million in cap space and were pursuing a reserve point guard and power forward in free agency. They were rumored to be in the bidding for Hawks big man Al Horford, among other free agents, but with a gaping hole at point guard, reached first for Smith.

In his six seasons, Smith also has played for the Rockets, Grizzlies, Warriors, Magic, Bucks, Suns and Thunder before the Sixers and Pelicans. He has never played a full season with one team, but had 70 games with the Suns in 2013-14, with Pistons forward Marcus Morris.

“I love Ish Smith from Philly. That’s my guy. I played with him in Phoenix and he might be the best backup point guard in the league, in my opinion,” said Morris, who watched the Pistons’ summer league team in Orlando. “If we could get him, he could make our team a lot better on and off the court. He’s a great teammate.”

Smith’s arrival spells the end for veteran Steve Blake, who was an unrestricted free agent and was the backup last season.

“I love Steve Blake; Steve Blake had a great career but he was getting older (36) and winding down a little bit,” Morris said Friday. “Ish was the perfect guy to pick up. Even when we’re down and the game is slow, he’s going to pick the pace up.

“He changes the game for us.”


Twitter: @detnewsRodBeard