(AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

The Detroit Pistons on Monday waived veteran forward Josh Smith, their highest-paid player who had two years left on a contract he signed after the 2012-13 season. The Pistons will have to pay Smith the $26 million that left on his contract and also will take the salary cap hit.

“Our team has not performed the way we had expected throughout the first third of the season and adjustments need to be made in terms of our focus and direction,” Pistons Coach President Stan Van Gundy said in a statement.

“We are shifting priorities to aggressively develop our younger players while also expanding the roles of other players in the current rotation to improve performance and build for our future. As we expand certain roles, others will be reduced. In fairness to Josh, being a highly versatile 10-year veteran in this league, we feel it’s best to give him his freedom to move forward. We have full respect for Josh as a player and a person.”

Smith will become a free agent if he clears waivers, as expected, and a number of teams are expected to compete for his services.

Smith was averaging 13.1 points, 7.2 rebounds and 4.7 assists per game this season and averaged 15.5 points, 6.9 rebounds and 3.7 assists in 105 games with the Pistons after leaving the Atlanta Hawks. He never truly fit in with the Pistons, who were over-subscribed at his position and reportedly had been looking to trade him for some time. But Detroit couldn’t find any takers because of Smith’s hefty contract.

Smith isn’t backing up his contract with his play on the court.