The Los Angeles Clippers have signed free-agent forward Josh Smith, who helped eliminate them from last season's playoffs when he was with the Houston Rockets. The Clippers announced the deal Thursday.
Smith reportedly signed a one-year contract for the veterans minimum worth $1.5 million. A source told ESPN's Chris Broussard that Smith "chose winning and a defined role over money."
Smith played 55 games for the Rockets last season after the Detroit Pistons waived him in December.
"Over my pro career I have spent a lot of time in Houston with friends and family. Over the past year, while with the Rockets, the team, fans and people of Houston have made it a second home," Smith said in a prepared statement. "I want to express my appreciation to everyone for the support and kindness they have showed me and my family while I have been here. Thank you!"
After he was released by Detroit, Smith was recruited to sign with Houston by Dwight Howard, his childhood friend. It turned out to be a solid move.
Smith scored in double digits in 35 of 48 games where he came off the bench, with four 20-point games during the regular season. His impact was even greater in the Western Conference semifinals. With the Rockets down 3-1 in the series against the Clippers, coach Kevin McHale inserted Smith into the starting lineup for Game 5, and Houston rallied to win the series. In a do-or-die Game 6 in L.A., Smith and Corey Brewer combined to score 29 fourth-quarter points, helping the Rockets rally from a 19-point second-half deficit to win.
While some teams didn't want Smith to shoot from 3-point range, the Rockets encouraged him to because it fit within the structure of their offense. Smith had said he enjoyed playing for McHale because the offense allowed him to display an individuality that wasn't possible in Detroit's system. The Rockets also liked Smith's ability to rebound as a power forward and pass from the post.
Smith, 29, had previously said he wanted to return to the Rockets, expressing his desire to play for McHale and with Howard.
In an 11-year career with the Atlanta Hawks, Pistons and Rockets, Smith has averaged 15.1 points, 7.7 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 2.0 blocks and 1.3 steals in 33.6 minutes per game. He is the 25th player in NBA history with over 10,000 points, 5,000 rebounds, 2,000 assists and 1,000 blocked shots.
ESPN.com's Calvin Watkins and The Associated Press contributed to this report.