Whether or not Russ Smith is an option for the San Antonio Spurs, will someone give him and the 61.2 points per game he averaged in China a chance?
The San Antonio Spurs might have enough at point guard for the 2017-18 NBA season. With Patty Mills, Dejounte Murray and Derrick White in place, along with Tony Parker’s eventual return, there’s depth at the position. However, due to injuries or other circumstances, things can change. This can be solved through free agency.
One of the many players sitting in the NBA’s open market is Russ Smith. He starred for Louisville in college at point gusrd, but went undrafted in 2014. Since then, he played sparingly for the New Orleans Pelicans in the 2014-15 season and for the Memphis Grizzlies in that same year and 2015-16. Smith played a combined 27 games, however, never starting and averaging just 4.9 minutes per.
The 26-year-old didn’t play in the NBA in the 2016-17 season, so he went to China and became a star. He averaged a ridiculous 61.2 points per game, while no other player in the Chinese National Basketball League ever had over 45 (h/t HoopsHype).
Via Basketball Insiders, Smith relayed his frustration about no NBA team signing him:
“I really think it’s BS that I’m not on an NBA roster, to say the least. There’s no way that I can look 30 teams in the NBA, in the states, and I can go, ‘All 13 guys on this roster is better than me.’ I can’t believe that.”
It’s a confidence from Smith that could make a team call him and offer a roster spot. Well, maybe not just from that, as a roster spot will need to be open, along with an opportunity to make a mark. That can’t happen until February, when the Chinese Basketball League’s season ends. So, it won’t be another five months until he can get another NBA opportunity.
If Smith replicates those gaudy numbers overseas, it will be difficult to ignore. Maybe someone gives him a 10-day contract in February or he waits it out for the 2018 offseason. Either way, look for him to eventually get a chance to capitalize on his success and words.