Lakers Rumors: Trading Pau Gasol for Josh Smith Makes Perfect Sense

Alex KayCorrespondent IJune 28, 2012

ATLANTA, GA - MARCH 08:  Pau Gasol #16 of the Los Angeles Lakers shoots over Josh Smith #5 of the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena on March 8, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Atlanta Hawks and Josh Smith have had an acrimonious relationship for a while now. It’s become more and more clear over the past season that Smith wants out, and it seems that the Hawks brass may finally oblige.

According to Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times, the Hawks are in talks with the Los Angeles Lakers to form some sort of deal that would land Smith in L.A. and Pau Gasol in Atlanta.

Bresnahan found that the Hawks first put the offer on the table almost immediately after the Lakers were eliminated in the second round of the playoffs by the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Now that Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak has had some time to settle down and survey the landscape around the league and evaluate his own roster, he may be more receptive to a making a bold move.

It would have to be more than a straight-up trade of Smith for Gasol, as the salaries do not match up, and neither team has the cap flexibility to absorb a contract. Smith is set to make $13.2 million next season before entering unrestricted free agency, while Gasol has two years and $38.3 million left on his deal.

Grantland’s Bill Simmons put together a fake trade that would work for both parties.

Fake trade alert: Josh Smith + Pachulia for Pau + McRoberts. LA saves 9m next year including tax. Who says no?

— Bill Simmons (@sportsguy33) June 27, 2012

However, ESPN’s John Hollinger found that it might take a little bit more to convince the Hawks to absorb Gasol’s massive salary.

@sportsguy33 pay ATL $3 mil and they might do it. Deal almost certainly puts them in tax.

— John Hollinger (@johnhollinger) June 27, 2012

If a Gasol-for-Smith swap ever goes down, both players would get a fresh start and have a solid chance to improve their new franchises.

The Spanish PF would add a lot of size and consistency to an erratic Hawks team that currently has pieces to make the postseason, but not enough to edge the top contenders in the conference. Gasol’s post presence would give Atlanta a huge boost.

Smith would make the aging Lakers into a youthful, exciting team. His ability to shoot, rebound, defend, swat shots and pilfer passes at a high level would make him a star and fan favorite in Hollywood.

It’s a win-win situation for both organizations, and they should be working around the clock to get a deal hammered out.