Merry Christmas and happy holidays to you and yours. Josh Smith received a most pleasant Christmas gift in being cut by Detroit only to end up in Houston next to former AAU teammate Dwight Howard and the rest of the gunning Rockets. Skeptics attribute Smith’s exit to playing out of his comfort zone and generally treating the rim with disdain, to which he says, “Whatever.” Elsewhere, the NBA Christmas Day slate proved to be underwhelming, and some guy on Twitter drove 50 minutes to defend Russell Westbrook, or what’s left of Kobe’s honor, or something.
1. The Detroit Pistons straight-up cut Josh Smith; Houston signs him because apparently Dwight Howard does have friends: It had been a rough two-year stretch for Josh Smith since leaving the Atlanta Hawks. His time with the Pistons, playing in a disastrous frontcourt alongside Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe, basically consisted of taking shots he had no business even considering, agitating every coach and analyst who crossed his path and generally being a drain on the Detroit economy in every conceivable way. Since arriving prior to this season, Pistons Head Coach and President of Basketball Operations Stan Van Gundy has taken a classic no-nonsense approach, which reached a semi-shocking apex when he chose to cut ties with the troubled forward. A former borderline All-Star and near-max contract candidate, Smith is still only 29 years old, so the Houston Rockets decided to take a chance and sign him to the $2 million bi-annual exception. Smith and Dwight Howard are very good friends, having played alongside one another on AAU teams, and Smith will be able to take some of Terrence Jones’ minutes while the latter sits out with a nerve injury in his left leg. If Kevin McHale can somehow keep Smith close to the basket, he can become a serviceable piece on a championship contender.
2. NBA Christmas gives the fans a bunch of coal in their stockings: Aside from the Thunder-Spurs game, in which Russell HUSTLE BUSTLE Westbrook continued his KD-less tear of 20+ point games, the NBA quintuple-header on Christmas Day was largely a dud. Featuring the Knicks and Lakers this season is a heinous war crime that goes against the Geneva Conventions, but of course the media markets dictate these sorts of things. For his part, Pau Gasol played admirably against his former team, and the Cavs-Heat game featured subplots about fan treatment of free agents, Kevin Love starting at center for the Cavs and a largely-overlooked Luol Deng explosion. It really comes as no fault of the NBA schedule, but most of the hyped Christmas games did not pan out as many hoped. Draymond Green even referred to his Warriors’ matchup with the Clippers as “nice” and “boring.”
3. Two guys, one Twitter argument, no fight: Here’s a sign your Christmas isn’t going according to plan: someone provokes you on social media such that you feel compelled to drive to where he says he is in order to physically confront him. When you get there, you find that he isn’t even in the same state as you. If your Kobe fandom is as extreme as Kobe’s work ethic, you might’ve done just that, as Twitter user @MyTweetsRealAF apparently did in order to fight another gentleman (Seth Rosenthal at SBNation conducted a pretty killer interview with him here). Basically, this dude drove from the San Diego area to Temecula, California expecting a face-to-face battle. Unfortunately for him, and fortunately for the rest of the world, his agitator was actually in Arizona eating roast pork. Driving almost an hour only to be stood up probably left that man feeling festively jovial. It’s the holiday season.