NBA Trade Rumors: Why Lakers Would Be Smart to Deal Pau Gasol for Josh Smith

Kyle StanzelCorrespondent IIIJuly 7, 2012

ATLANTA, GA - APRIL 29:  Josh Smith #5 of the Atlanta Hawks directs his team against the Boston Celtics in Game One of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs on April 29, 2012 at Philips Arena 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 Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
Grant Halverson/Getty Images

According to Michael Cunningham of the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the Atlanta Hawks turned down a Pau Gasol for Josh Smith trade because the Los Angeles Lakers wanted another big piece involved in the deal.

That big additional piece was point guard Jeff Teague, according to International Business Times' Charles Dunson.

Since the Hawks turned down the deal, the Lakers have made a big move in acquiring two-time MVP Steve Nash to fill their point guard void.

With no need for Teague to be included in the deal anymore, the Lakers would be wise to accept a Gasol-for-Smith deal straight up.

Last season we saw the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder advance to the NBA Finals by using their speed and athleticism to dominate teams on the fast break and lock them down on defense.

After the Lakers got ousted from the playoffs by the Thunder in May, Magic Johnson openly expressed his opinion that the Lakers needed to get more athletic in a Los Angeles Times article:  "To me, you have to get younger and more athletic. Oklahoma City is young, athletic and fast. The team to beat is the team that knocked you out."

There isn't a power forward in the NBA who is more athletic than Josh Smith.

The 6'9" 26-year-old can absolutely fly and would be a wonder to watch on the fast break with Steve Nash.

The celebrity-filled Staples Center crowd would go nuts with every highlight alley-oop that Nash would throw to Smith, and the Lakers would have their own version of "Lob City."

Furthermore, Smith has expressed a clear desire to be traded out of Atlanta going back to the trade deadline in March.

Kobe Bryant was unhappy with Pau Gasol's play in the playoffs, and the 32-year-old scored a career-low 17.4 points per game in the regular season.

With Smith coming off a career year of 18.8 points and 9.6 rebounds per game, the Lakers would be getting an upgrade on both ends of the court.

A Pau Gasol-Josh Smith trade not only makes the Lakers more athletic and is a great fit for new point guard Steve Nash—it turns the Lakers into legitimate NBA title contenders.