Detroit Pistons: Top Five Moments in 2014

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Dec 17, 2014; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; Dallas Mavericks forward Al-Farouq Aminu (7) dunks on Detroit Pistons forward Josh Smith (6) and forward Kyle Singler (25) at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Josh Smith Gets His Walking Papers

After just one and a half season Josh Smith was released for the Detroit Pistons correcting arguably the biggest and most costly mistake of his tenure as Detroit Pistons President of Basketball Operations.

Josh Smith was signed just prior to the 2013-14 season.  It was an unexpected splash at the end of the free agent period that was supposed to give the Detroit Pistons an unstoppable front court.  The theory was that the Pistons big men would be able to control the paint and provided increased post presence opening up shots for perimeter shooters like Brandon Jennings and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.

The grand plan didn’t go as expected.   Josh Smith struggled with his new role as and insider scorer and seemed to openly defy coaching when taking ill-advised and shots from the perimeter. Smith’s defiance and discontent with his role led to a rift that eventually ended in the firing of head coach Maurice Checks after only 1/2 season.

Prior to the 2014-15 season, new head coach and President of Basketball Operation Stan Van Gundy seemed to once again embrace a three player rotation between Andre Drummond, Greg Monroe and Josh Smith.

Van Gundy said he and the Pistons power forward had come to and understanding about perimeter shooting and that fans should expect more insider scoring from Smith.

"“I think Josh has a very good understanding of the shots he needs to shoot that are not only best for him, but best for our team,” Van Gundy said. “He’s one of the elite guys in the league around the basket. Last year, stuff inside, right at the rim, in two straight years, he has been 71% and 77%. There’s very few guys at that level. So he needs to get more of those. He knows that. He also understands he really doesn’t need to shoot threes for this team."

But as the season went on it became clear that Smith wasn’t going to change his game for SVG.  Josh Smith’s release left $27 million in cap hits for the Pistons to absorb over the next five seasons but it was probably necessary for the team to move forward.