Clippers acknowledge poor fit, trade Josh Smith back to Rockets

The Los Angeles Clippers traded Josh Smith to the Houston Rockets for the draft rights to Maarty Leunen, who currently plays in Italy. The Clippers are also sending cash and the draft rights to Serhiy Lischuk, who plays in Spain, to the Rockets. Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski first reported the trade. Both teams announced the deal on Friday.

The Clippers had considered waiving Smith, league sources said. The trade allows them to save $2 million in luxury tax.

The Clippers will send cash to cover the remaining $460,000 on Smith’s $1.4 million minimum salary this season and the draft rights to Serhiy Lischuk. Houston sends the Clippers the rights to Maarty Leunen. Neither player is expected to play in the NBA.

This will be Smith's second stint with the Rockets as he joined Houston midway through last season after getting waived by the Detroit Pistons. Smith played well in Houston and was instrumental in helping the Rockets advance past the Clippers in the second round of the 2015 playoffs.

Hoping that Smith would add some much needed depth to their bench, the Clippers signed him in the offseason to a veteran's minimum deal. However, Smith was a poor fit with the Clippers and is averaging career-lows across the board. He got in a reportedly loud profanity-laced argument with assistant coach Mike Woodson and has been stuck on the bench, not playing a single second in 10 of the Clippers 42 games. 

Now back in Houston, Smith will once again have the opportunity to play with his childhood friend Dwight Howard and help a struggling Rockets team in need of bench support.

"I'm excited. I feel great. It's a place that I probably should have never left," Smith told Fox 26's Mark Berman about being traded back to Houston.

This is a low risk move for Houston that could work out. If Smith can duplicate how he played in Houston the first time, the Rockets could become a better team as they try to climb up the standings in the West.

Josh Smith is heading back to Houston.
Josh Smith is heading back to Houston. (USATSI)
CBS Sports Writer

Ananth Pandian has been writing about all NBA-related things including the social and lifestyle aspect of the sport for CBS Sports since 2015. His name is actually easy to pronounce, just remember it is... Full Bio

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