You’ve probably heard the buzz around the web: Josh Smith has disappointed us once again by not getting into shape despite the vitriol spit his way for not doing so last season.
This was confirmed when Ben Howland spoke to the Sporting News about Smith:
Smith’s struggle to properly condition himself to play persistently has undermined his progress as a player. Howland said Smith is “the same.”
“I’m disappointed where he’s at, that he’s not further along with his conditioning,” Howland said. “That’s just being honest, being truthful.”
You and me both, Ben Howland.
Of course, it’s obvious that Smith is as about unmotivated as a talented basketball player can get. The dude has been given multiple opportunities to get with it and become a dominant big man. And after he was given so much crap over the summer — from Bruins fans and college hoops analysts — you’d think he’d have legit bulletin board material to lose weight.
We know it’s difficult; losing weight isn’t something that requires passing interest. But when you’re a basketball player whose increased fitness might lead to you becoming a lottery pick in the NBA draft — and, as a result, a minimum of a two-year, $3.1 million deal with a two-year team option for slightly more — you have a serious problem if that doesn’t motivate you enough. That’s akin to winning the lottery and, let’s be real, who wouldn’t lose 50 pounds at Smith’s weight to win a guaranteed lottery?
The dude obviously doesn’t want to play basketball, though. And because of this, Howland should just cut Smith.
Because while Smith doesn’t appear to be a problem with the locker room, the team can’t afford to have poor leadership — he’s a junior after all — failing to lead by example.
You can take the soft-hearted approach with Smith if you want. You can give him “one more chance” to prove that he’ll respond.
I can’t, though. I’m done with this guy.
We get it: He’s just a 20-year old kid. At the same time, though, Smith is here at UCLA to play basketball. He’s not given a scholarship to be entirely unmotivated to get in game shape, and he isn’t here at UCLA because he is prone to invent the next great thing.
He’s here to pound the paint, rebound, and play for upwards of 30 minutes a game.
And it isn’t as if this team can’t replace him. Sure, UCLA will obviously lose its biggest weapon — again, as always, “when he’s fit” — but it gives others a chance to compete who are incredibly motivated to play this game. Freshman Tony Parker is obviously next in line to start at the pivot.
Of course, Tony Parker’s a big dude himself — he’s 6’9” and weighs 270 pounds — and having Smith around might prove to be a bad idea; the dude just might be a bad influence to the young Parker.
Ben Howland needs to cut this dude. No more ultimatums; he’s been given enough. No more chances; he’s had far too many.
We’re ready to move on, Josh Smith.