Thunder to sign Ish Smith

ByRoyce Young ESPN logo
Thursday, November 6, 2014

OKLAHOMA CITY -- With as many as eight players sidelined by injuries, the Thunder will sign guard Ish Smith using a hardship exception recently awarded by the league, according to a source.

He is expected to be in uniform Friday against the Memphis Grizzlies. The Oklahoman earlier reported news of Smith's signing.

Smith, 26, has played for seven teams in four seasons, most recently appearing in 70 games last season with the Phoenix Suns. He was with the Houston Rockets in the preseason before being waived.

To acquire a hardship exception, which allows a team to exceed the 15-man maximum roster, four players must miss at least three consecutive games and be out a minimum of an additional two weeks. An independent league physician has to grant the waiver based on the estimated timetables of all the players.

The Thunder's unusual injury wave has seen the roster diminished down to as few as seven available players at times. Currently sidelined for extended time: Kevin Durant (foot), Russell Westbrook (hand), Mitch McGary (foot), Anthony Morrow (sprained MCL) and Grant Jerrett (ankle). Perry Jones III (knee), Jeremy Lamb (back) and Andre Roberson (foot) are all day-to-day.

Jones and Roberson did not practice Thursday and are questionable for Friday's game. Lamb practiced and could return against Memphis. Morrow participated in some of practice but is unlikely to return Friday.

The team had to wait until after Tuesday's game against the Raptors to be granted the exception, as there is potential Morrow could return within two weeks. But the Raptors game made it three consecutive games missed for Westbrook, giving the Thunder the four necessary players absent to qualify for the exception.

Ish will sign a 10-day veteran's minimum deal with the Thunder and the team will then need to re-apply for the hardship exception to sign him to a second 10-day deal.

With the Thunder only having two available guards on the roster, Reggie Jackson and Sebastian Telfair, Smith will provide much-needed backcourt depth.

Smith, a 6-foot guard from Wake Forest, has career averages of 2.9 points, 2.0 assists and 1.4 rebounds per game.

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