After failing to draw interest from NBA teams this summer, Josh Smith is reportedly heading overseas to play in China. According to international reporter David Pick, Smith has signed a three-month $1.5 million deal to play for the Sichuan Whales in the Chinese Basketball Association. By signing just for three months, Smith will be able to keep his hopes of latching on with an NBA team when his contract is up.
Smith spent last season with the Los Angeles Clippers and Houston Rockets. He primarily came off the bench in both stops and averaged 6.0 points and 3.5 rebounds in 16 minutes last season. This was in stark contrast to his prime, where for nine seasons with the Atlanta Hawks, Smith was always a borderline All-Star and was a versatile scorer and defender.
Smith's fall from grace came when he signed a max-deal with the Detroit Pistons in 2013. Never truly meshing in Detroit, Smith didn't live up to the expectations of his contract and he waived by the Pistons in 2014. Smith's lack shooting and seemingly poor disposition contributed to his struggles in Detroit and in his stops in Houston and Los Angeles.
It should be noted that Smith is still earning money from his contract with the Pistons. He is getting paid a pretty penny just to play for three months in China but Smith isn't doing it for the money. He is doing it as an audition of sorts for the 30 NBA teams.
Smith is just 31 years old though and still possesses tantalizing athleticism and an intriguing skill set. If he is able to thrive and prove himself in China, perhaps Smith could find an NBA team willing to sign him when he becomes available. If not, Smith will likely become the next player that once had a steady NBA career but is now a star in China. That's something he probably never envisioned happening when he was one of the top free agents in 2013.