Detroit Pistons’ Josh Smith improves under ex-forward Rasheed Wallace

rasheed-wallace-coach-detroitDetroit Pistons training camp is about two weeks away, and Josh Smith is wasting no time getting ready. The forward is intent on fitting into his new environment.

“I got lost the other day, but I’m finding my way around,’’ said Smith, who signed as a free agent this off-season. “I listen to my GPS. I just need a couple of places to eat. I have a cousin here, and that helps.’’

From the work he put in with the coaching staff today at the Pistons’ practice facility in Auburn Hills, it’s obvious that he’s focused and ready to make the team a playoff contender.

“I’m just trying to polish up on things,” he said after working with assistant coach Rasheed Wallace on the perimeter and in the low post. “I’m trying to be more consistent on my mid-range and long-range jumper. I’ve been working on it hard each and every day here.

“Rasheed has been teaching me some things that I need to know on the block; some veteran leadership from him. He has been able to show me some things. It’s always beneficial when you have a veteran guy who has played in the NBA and been successful and now they’re coaches. They can see things from a player’s and a coach’s standpoint.’’

Wallace said the key is to keep Smith in his comfort zone.

“You don’t want him doing things he’s not used to doing,’’ Wallace said. “We’re trying to get him comfortable making the 15- to 18-foot jump shot.’’

Don’t be surprised if Smith sees time at both power forward and small forward with the Pistons.

“I think one of the strengths of this team is our flexibility,’’ Smith said “I like how we’re family-oriented. Everyone seems genuine. Everybody’s talking about family. Arnie (Kander) talks about that a lot. Everybody talks about when Rasheed and Chauncey (Billups) were here, they took on that type of attitude.’’

Rasheed Wallace retired at the end of last season with the New York Knicks after a 17-year playing career that also included stints with Washington, Portland, Atlanta, Detroit and Boston.

Wallace holds career averages of 14.4 points, 6.7 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.3 blocks and 1 steal during a 14-year career with the Bullets, Blazers, Hawks, Pistons, Celtics and Knicks. He played in total of 1109 NBA games (started 956).

The Pistons and 38-year old Wallace, had been in discussions in June about a player development role with the franchise he helped lead to an NBA championship in 2004.

Wallace eventually agreed to a two-year deal to join the Detroit Pistons‘ coaching staff, ESPN reported in July.


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