Saturday, December 4, 2021

Smith released from Pistons, returns to CBA

November 2, 2000
Former Spartan Antonio Smith goes for a rebound over Rosell Ellis, Yakima Sun Kings forward, during a recent Grand Rapids Hoops game. —

Antonio Smith’s dreams of making an NBA roster will have to be postponed for a little while longer.

The Detroit Pistons released the former Spartan forward last weekend before they departed for Toronto for their season opener.

Charles Tucker, Smith’s agent, said Smith was a victim of the Pistons having too many players. The Pistons already have 14 players with guaranteed contracts, so Smith’s non-guaranteed contract was the first to go when the team had to pare down its roster for the regular season.

“He felt he could make it, but it’s a numbers game,” Tucker said. “He needs to keep playing and getting better and hope he gets picked up.”

Tucker said Smith is back in Grand Rapids where he played last season with the Grand Rapids Hoops of the Continental Basketball Association. He averaged 4.2 points and 5.0 rebounds with the Hoops in 1999-2000.

Tucker said he wants to keep the option of Smith returning to the NBA open.

“He received a lot of attention (while with the Pistons),” Tucker said. “He might get back on the league on a 10-day contract.

“I want him to play in good competition and make good money. But if we get interest from the NBA, we have to have the option to go.”

Walt Perrin, the director of college scouting for the Pistons, said Smith needs to improve his jump shot to make an NBA squad.

“He needs to work on his shooting and improve his range,” Perrin said. “He plays good defense, rebounds and runs the court well. He could get by with being a smaller power forward if he developed a good post-up game and good range.”

Smith started for the Pistons in an exhibition game against the Utah Jazz at Breslin Student Events Center on Oct. 19. He collected two steals and no points in seven minutes of play against the Jazz.

He averaged 1.5 points and 0.8 rebounds per game in the exhibition season.

“We brought him in to see how he’s progressed, to give energy to our practices and help him in his development,” Perrin said, “and I think we accomplished that.”

Smith played for MSU for four years, culminating in a 1999 Final Four loss to Duke.

The Pistons beat the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday in their season opener, led by Jerry Stackhouse’s 44 points.

The game marked the return to court for two other former Spartans, squaring off against each other for the first time since high school.

Pistons rookie Mateen Cleaves and Raptors rookie Morris Peterson teamed to lead MSU to a national championship last year, but donned opposing uniforms Tuesday. Cleaves scored four points and added one assist and Peterson scored 14 points and had four rebounds.

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