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Rockets officially sign Josh Smith, who will play Friday night; waive Tarik Black

Josh Smith

Josh Smith


We told you it was coming but now it is official: Josh Smith is a member of the Houston Rockets.

And he will be available to play Friday night against Memphis.

The Pistons were so frustrated with Smith’s play they were willing to pay him more than $27 million just to go away. They outright waived a guy with a guaranteed deal. He did not fit with Andre Drummond and Smith wasn’t making shots (neither near the basket nor with his ill-advised jumpers). He wasn’t Stan Van Gundy’s guy.

But the Rockets — still without starting power forward Terence Jones — see in Smith a guy who is just 29 and was scoring almost 18 points a game a few years ago, is athletic and can defend well. They see a guy strangled by the situation in Detroit who can help them out. They see a guy who has a great relationship with Dwight Howard, as they played AAU ball together. They see a player who can be part of their rotation as they try to win a title.

When the Pistons waived Smith the Rockets went after him hard offering the bi-annual exception of just more than $2 million, and they officially got their man on Friday.

Smith said before he was excited to join this team. He’s on board. And if it doesn’t work out here, it was not a big loss for the Rockets. It’s a low-risk gamble, they can start Smith for now and if this doesn’t fit they get Terrence Jones back from a nerve issue in his leg and can give him key minutes.

But if one guy is in on a full roster, another is out, so the Rockets waived Tarik Black.

Black had the physical tools to be an NBA four coming out of college — he spent three seasons at Memphis and one at Kansas — but went undrafted last June because he lacked polish. He was on the Rockets’ Summer League team and from there got a camp invite then made the roster because of his rebounding and athleticism. There was potential.

Then Terrence Jones and Dwight Howard were injured and Black’s role grew — he actually started 12 games for Houston and was a regular part of their rotation. He averaged 4.2 points shooting 54 percent plus grabbed 5.1 rebounds a game, pulling down a very respectable 18.1 percent of the available rebounds while on the court. He played solidly for a rookie.

Then Howard returned and Black was struggling to get on the court. Now the Rockets have signed Smith, which means Black is out and being waived, something first reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports and later confirmed by the team.

To clear a roster spot to sign free agent Josh Smith, the Houston Rockets waived center Tarik Black on Friday, league sources told Yahoo Sports…

Black had been a training camp and preseason surprise for the Rockets, an undrafted center out of Kansas who showed an ability to play in the NBA. More than one NBA team told Yahoo Sports they will have interest in claiming him on waivers. Black’s $500,000 owed him for this season has a partial guarantee. There’s a team option of $845,000 on his deal for the 2015-16 season.

That’s pennies in NBA dollars and worth it for Black, who showed promise in his time in Houston. Some team will roll the dice and claim him off waivers.

You can’t blame the Rockets, they are in “win now” mode as they should be and a rookie just isn’t going to play a big role. But they gave Black a chance and he will stick in the NBA.