Lakers Rumors: Why Josh Smith for Pau Gasol Would Be a Step Back
The Los Angeles Lakers have reportedly been shopping power forward Pau Gasol for some time now, and while the team may have found a potential trade partner in the Atlanta Hawks, dealing Gasol for forward Josh Smith would be a classic example of taking one step forward at the expense of two in the opposite direction.
The 11-year veteran didn't grouse about nearly being shipped out of town, but his production on the court declined significantly, with both his scoring and rebounding averages dropping off.
Even more disturbing, Gasol once again pulled a vanishing act in the postseason, averaging only 12.5 points per game and shooting only 43 percent, contributing to the Lakers' being eliminated in the Western Conference semifinals by the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Even with all that taken into consideration, it's the Hawks that are pushing this deal, according to a report by Mike Bresnahan in the Los Angeles Times, perhaps because Smith is set to hit free agency in 2013.
The 26-year-old Smith, who averaged a career-high 18.8 points and 9.6 rebounds per game in 2011, has been unhappy in Atlanta for some time because, as Bresnahan puts it, "he felt he was an unfair target of criticism by coaches and media members."
To his credit, in addition to being a capable scorer, Smith is also a very active player defensively, averaging 1.3 steals and 2.2 blocks per game a season ago.
So, given that he's younger, has scored more, has rebounded more and is seemingly a better defensive player, what's not to like about Smith?
Well, for one, there's his mediocre shooting.
For Smith to score nearly 20 points a game, it took a boatload of attempts. Smith shot a woeful 45.8 percent from the field a year ago, a dismal number for a big man.
Smith didn't do a whole lot better when afforded freebies either, shooting only 63 percent from the free-throw line.
Then there's the not-so-insignificant matter of what's going on between Smith's ears.
As I stated earlier, Smith has spent much of his time in Atlanta complaining about how he's been treated by everyone from his coaches to the media to that kid at Burger King that looked at him funny.
Los Angeles Times writer Mark Medina doesn't see that situation improving in La-La land:
There are plenty of signs suggesting Smith would just fall apart with the Lakers. He already complained in Atlanta last season over coach and media criticism. How's he going to handle the glare of the Hollywood spotlight when things go poorly?
Granted, both Josh Smith and Pau Gasol would probably benefit from changes of scenery at this point, and the Lakers need to make some moves if they're going to keep pace with the Thunder in the Western Conference.
However, trading a player just for the sake of trading him is generally not a good idea.
Especially if the player you're giving away is arguably just as good (if not better) than the one you're getting.
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