Houston Rockets Start Josh Smith After James Harden Praises Forward's Versatility

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Feb 24, 2016 01:25 PM EST
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Josh Smith
Houston Rockets forward Josh Smith drives down the court during a 2016 home game."

The Houston Rockets were the first team to get the ball rolling when they traded for Josh Smith. The team opted to bring back a familiar face rather than take a chance on someone else. Smith played for the Rockets last year, but did not get his contract extended and ended up signing on with the Los Angeles Clippers. That experiment failed and now Smith is back in Houston and getting inserted back into the starting lineup.

According to Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle, Smith will remain in the starting lineup for likely the rest of the season. He will take over the power forward position while Trevor Ariza moves back to the small forward spot. This is a similar lineup the team used last season and interim head coach JB Bickerstaff believes the built-in chemistry between the players will help bring more success.

"The bigger lineup ... adds another playmaker to that group, a guy who has good chemistry with Dwight and James and Trevor and Pat because he can create for all those guys," Bickerstaff said, via the Chronicle. "We have versatility and because of the way we play, the lineups are going to change as we go. We're going to play big. We're going to play small. We're going to play medium."

The Rockets are a mess right now. The team fell in overtime to the Utah Jazz, but Bickerstaff believes the versatility of Smith could be an x-factor going forward. Bickerstaff is preaching ball movement right now and he thinks the bigger lineup will help in that effort. James Harden has been getting plenty of double-teams lately and having the shooting skills of Smith could help relieve the pressure. Things did not work out against the Jazz, but the more Smith plays the more change could take place.

"Josh is going to bring a lot to us. Just like last year in our system, Josh is great, just how he moves the ball, the way he rebounds; he's just a good teammate. Friday showed how when we're moving the ball and [when] we're playing together is good for us," Harden said, via Houston Forward Times.

Bickerstaff is trying to get the right combination of players on the court. According to ESPN Insider Tom Haberstroh, the Rockets will get knocked out early in the playoffs if they keep up this style of play. Ty Lawson must figure out how to mess on the court while pressure is mounting for Dwight Howard to improve.

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