After reinvigorating his career as a valued reserve player for the Houston Rockets last season, Josh Smith became one of the bigger names on the free agency market this summer. According to ESPN's Calvin Watkins, Smith could've re-signed with the Rockets on a one-year, $2.5 million deal or he could've joined his friends Rudy Gay and Rajon Rondo in Sacramento on a larger deal. But instead he chose to sign a one-year, veteran's minimum deal ($1.5 million) with the Los Angeles Clippers.
With DeAndre Jordan returning and the Clippers adding Lance Stephenson and Paul Pierce, Smith saw a move to Los Angeles as his best chance at winning a championship. It wasn't about the money for Smith, as he explained to reporters at the team's press conference to introduce the newly signed Clippers. Unfortunately for Smith, he wasn't that eloquent with his words.
Smith's quote, transcribed by Dan Feldman of PBT:
It wasn’t about the money because of the Detroit situation. But at the end of the day, you know, I do have a family. So, it is going to be a little harder on me this year. But I’m going to push through it and try to do long-term after this year. But I think, this year, focusing on doing something special with this group of guys – we have the opportunity to do something special. Right now, this is what I want to focus on.
Make sure you read Smith's quote thoroughly. Sure, he brings up his family while discussing his veteran's minimum deal, which does conjure up the image of Latrell Sprewell famously turning down a three-year, $30 million contract from the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2004 because he had to feed his family. But what makes Smith's quote different is that he clearly says that earning less money will be harder on his family, which is a 100 percent true statement. When someone makes less money, it will be harder for them to support their family.
Of course, Smith is still a wealthy millionaire and as he points out, he still has money coming in from his Detroit contract. According to Feldman, Smith "is slated to earn $6,403,262 next season -- $4,904,075 from the Pistons (who released him last year), $947,276 from the Clippers and $551,911 from the NBA (which pays a portion of salaries for players on one-year minimum contracts)."
So while $6.4 million is a sizable annual salary even considering the the high taxes of Los Angeles, Smith did leave money on the table by choosing to sign with the Clippers instead of the Rockets and the Kings. He made a choice based on winning rather than money. David West made the same choice when he signed with the San Antonio Spurs earlier in the offseason. The only difference is that Smith should've just stuck with his doing "something special" cliche instead of prefacing it with his financial situation and how it relates to his family.
Sometimes we say the wrong thing, which is exactly what Smith did in this instance.