Greg Smith demoted to the Vipers

This news earlier today via Rockets press release.

The demotion doesn’t come as a total shock as much of Smith’s playing time had been stolen away by one Cole David Aldrich.

But while not a shock, the move is disappointing, not so much for its implications concerning Smith, but rather what it signifies about ‘expectation’ in general.

In the last almost-2o years of following this team, I’ve seen countless players, from Oscar Torres to Vincent Hamilton, to Roderick Rhodes, fizzle out after tantalizing for three week stretches.  Each and every time, almost without fail, the commentary follows the same progression: “Wow, they might really have something.” –> “X might be their long term fit at x position.” –> “What is X’s potential?” –> “Can X be an All-Star?”

Now by no means does this signify the end of Smith’s career.  He very well could return to the lineup and again be a force.  But the demotion lends itself as a telling tale towards caution.  Keep expectations saddled for even a complete demolition of Dwight Howard is not enough to indicate lasting power.

And on lasting power, is anything more greatly taken for granted?  How many rookie pitchers have blown through major league lineups only to be figured out their next time around the league.  In the majors, they are planning for you; teams figure you out.  In the NBA, you are one of just a few-hundred men employed for service.  Can you stay effective after coaches have had time to watch tape?

I was listening to a Bill Simmons podcast with Jalen Rose some weeks ago, and the latter was mentioning some player, I forget whom.  Rose was remarking that the player had played ten seasons in the NBA and really underscoring the significance of that achievement.  “He was able to stay in the NBA for 10 years.  That’s not an easy thing to do.”  And that statement, or similar such, never really hits you until really taking it in.  We belittle and mock so-called “scrubs”, but some of these men have managed to endure a decade in an industry with only few-hundred employment opportunities.  This is professional sports – it’s a really big deal.

On Smith, I think it’s telling that if you go through discussion on this very board, and most likely others regarding this team, a good proportion of fans probably would not have been willing to deal Smith in a package for DeMarcus Cousins, back when the former was at the height of his tear.  Lasting power is a curious thing.

View this discussion from the forum.

About the author: Rahat Huq is a lawyer in real life and the founder and editor-in-chief of

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Total comments: Merged
  • ale11 says 3 YEARs ago The kid showed potential, but clearly he is not ready yet. We all got caught up in excitement because he proved he can play, but maybe not consistently yet. Let's hope he figures it out
  • Red94 says 3 YEARs ago New post: Greg Smith demoted to the Vipers
  • DaDakota says 3 YEARs ago I love Greg Smith, was pissed off when they cut him last year - I do question his listed height though, but he reminds me more of Otis Thorpe than any Rocket since.

  • mingwang says 3 YEARs ago Good points by Stephen and Rahat. I'll admit I hadn't noticed Smith's post moves; I'll be on the lookout for them when they play Memphis tonight.
  • Mario Peña says 3 YEARs ago The game Huq might be recalling might have been the Wizards game because I remember those moves but I must admit the defense they played on Smith wasn't all that challenging if my memory serves me right. In that game against the Wizards at Toyota Center Smith also had a turnover or two from his clumsiness down low. He is young and will develop his game as well as gain a level of comfort that comes with time on the court.

    Maybe Greg Smith turns out to be Carl Landry 2.0 for the Rockets. That high motor big off the bench that has enough energy to make an impact and not be an undersized liability. Whereas Landry is 6'8" with a 6'11" wingspan Smith is a true 6'10" with a 7'3" wingspan according to Draft Express profiles. I do not envision a scenario where Smith would challenge Asik or even satisfactorily supplement what he does and in actuality Smith could be that Taj Gibson type role player off the bench which would be very valuable to a strong 8 to 9 man rotation.
  • Bigtkirk says 3 YEARs ago This Wages of Wins blog post notes that Smith is the most productive bench player in the league so far this season:
  • bboley24 says 3 YEARs ago Haha! "Bendiness" I like it Rahat! Dare I say... "Dream-like" flexibility?
  • rockets best fan says 3 YEARs ago no doubt the rockets may have found an unpolished diamond in smith. I can't believe with all the scoutting done in the league that this guy went undrafted. kudos to the rockets for doing their homework. I don't think he is a threat to asik right now, but by next year asik may be looking over his shoulder a bit. this is the most excited I have been about rockets bigs since...........well since yao in his hey day. I'm not saying I think one of these guy has a chance to be as good, but this is the 1st time in a long time we have had real high ceiling talent at that position. I know some in the fourm are calling for us to trade for a big at PF,but whats happening at center now will happen at PF given time. which is why I would rather see the rockets stand pat at those positions (center,PF) unless love or cousin or someone like that becomes available. all these guy need is time to develope. if we are patient we may already have that which we think we need.
  • Red94 says 3 YEARs ago New post: More on Greg Smith
  • bob schmidt says 3 YEARs ago I love the simplicity of Greg's game. He competes on every play, and seems to be under control better than many veterans. Not to mention that he occupies a lot of space when in the paint. The other aspect that impresses me is his attitude. Instead of trying to call attention to himself as is the new norm for a lot of players, he remains humble and anxious to improve his skills. In short, he is wise beyond his years and a great asset for the team...
  • Alituro says 3 YEARs ago So, would Smith be the Rockets' version of Arian Foster? He is definitely a diamond in the rough. A little more confidence and participation from him and we will see him develop the post up game and not be trigger shy on jump shots. He should be a decent jump shooter judging from his success at the line. I can understand his hesitance to work out of his comfort zone right now given that he's trying to solidify his part in the rotations. Once he starts seeing regular play time we should see him trying other aspects of his game. He's very young. Kudos to the Rockets player development program. It's hard not to root for this kid. Nice write-up.
  • rocketrick says 3 YEARs ago Great article on Greg Smith and well written by Ming. I for one am pleased that Greg Smith is a Rocket. However, I don't see him overtaking Asik in the starting lineup as implied by Johnny Rocket in his comments because Asik brings so much more to the team on the defensive end of the court. I also expect that Asik's offensive game will improve over time as well. Still, Greg Smith is a key role player for our team now and into the foreseeable future in my opinion. I expect we'll see a few more 20+ point/10+ rebound games from him as the season plays out, too.
  • Johnny Rocket says 3 YEARs ago Great article. If Smith is indeed more effective with the starters, does that imply that he should start, at least at some point in February and March? I suspect his fairly high foul rate is the reason he comes off the bench, but at some point he's going to be much better than Asik (if he isn't there already).
  • Jeby says 3 YEARs ago The amazing thing to me about Smith's offensive success is that it's so simple: Hands and Hops. He catches everything, goes up with it immediately, and his elevation and reach are so tremendous that he will either dunk or get fouled. His movement to find space without the ball is good too, but not as good as Asik's.
    So next time you hear Jay Bilas ranting about "great hands!" "36-inch vertical!" "WINGSPAN!" remember Greg Smith. Dude had some of the best measurables in last year's draft, but some of the least polished skills--the polar opposite of Marcus Morris, by the way. After just one season, those two guys are having roughly the same amount of success.
  • Stephen says 3 YEARs ago Ming,
    Smith has shown a nice jump hook in the post on the few occasions he's been fed on the low post. It is much smoother,more powerful and more accurate than Patterson's.
  • NorEastern says 3 YEARs ago A great article! I do find it interesting that the Rockets young players are seeming to embrace and make the most of their D-League assignments. White of course is excluded. When Patterson and Morris went down it seemed to foster acrimony. I believe that the team and the rookies will benefit immensely from the relationship, and the young players will improve quicker.
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