Craig Smith has inked a one year deal to return to the Los Angeles Clippers, with the value of the contract yet to be revealed.
The return of Craig Smith means a few things for the rest of the Clippers’ roster. At this point it now seems highly unlikely that Sofoklis Schortsanitis, aka Big Sofo, will be joining the team this year. Although the environment in Vegas is far from ideal for big guys, Sofo wasn’t overwhelming with his performances in that setting. Craig Smith has proven he’s a quality NBA player over the course of his career, evidenced by a PER rating last year that was better than both Eric Gordon and Chris Kaman.
Technically the Clippers could have Sofo and Craig Smith on the roster, but they seem to duplicate each other’s talents quite a bit. Both are big, low post scorers who are limited on the defensive end and on the glass. Signing Sofo will likely take a little more money than the Clippers are willing to part with, especially when you consider they have Smith who has proven he can do all the same things.
After last season ended, I wrote an appreciation piece on Smith and what he brought to the team. One of the most impressive things about Smith was that he was a consistent contributor, even as the Clippers were going through chaos with their coaching staff and personnel. At the end of the day, Rhino got buckets, whether it was in a starting role or ten minutes off the bench, or whether it was in Kim Hughes’ offense or Mike Dunleavy’s. That ability to adapt and stay consistent no doubt appealed to Neil Olshey, who witnessed the carnage firsthand, and also to Vinny Del Negro, who must be craving accomplished low-post scorers after his time in Chicago.
Smith is a true professional, a hard worker who ups the intensity level in practice and is a proven scorer in the league. Those type of guys don’t grow on trees. Although he’s pretty limited in that he can’t play small forward or center, he’ll provide some nice insurance to Blake Griffin and be a reliable scoring option off the bench for the Clippers. It always seemed Rhino wanted to come back to continue playing in Los Angeles, and now he knows the feeling is mutual.