Lakers Trade Rumors: Why LA Needs to Trade for Josh Smith

Jeremy FuchsCorrespondent IIIJuly 17, 2012

PHOENIX, AZ - FEBRUARY 15:  Josh Smith #5 of the Atlanta Hawks shoots the ball during the NBA game against the Phoenix Suns at US Airways Center on February 15, 2012 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Hawks defeated the Suns 101-99.  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 Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Lakers have had discussions with the Atlanta Hawks about swapping Pau Gasol for Josh Smith.

The Hawks, according to CBS Sports, turned down the deal. The Lakers wanted more than just Smith in return.

As Michael Cunningham of the Atlanta-Journal Constitution reported:

In addition to Johnson, the Hawks have been open to moving forward Josh Smith though they’ve resisted offers so far. Apparently the Hawks balked at a potential deal with the Lakers for Pau Gasol because L.A. wanted another major piece to go along with Smith. That would leave the Hawks with less than six players under contract, less talent, and no short-term cap relief because of the $38 million and two years remaining on Gasol’s contract.

That major piece, according to Charles Dunson of the International Business Times, was point guard Jeff Teague. With Steve Nash in town, however, the Lakers don't need Teague. 

The Lakers need to re-focus and get their priorities back on track. Smith is a necessary piece.

For one, Smith is 26 and entering the prime of his career. He's super-athletic and can guard multiple positions. 

He's also a better player than Gasol. Smith averaged 18.8 points last season, along with 9.6 rebounds and 1.7 blocks.

Gasol, on the other hand, averaged 17.4 points and 10.4 rebounds. In the playoffs, Gasol struggled, scoring only 12.5 points per game.

Gasol, at 32, is on the downswing of his career. Smith is much more athletic and is an exciting player to watch. His spectacular dunks would be very popular in LA.

Now that the Lakers have acquired Nash, they don't need a point guard. They can focus on the Smith-for-Gasol swap.

It's highway robbery for the Lakers. While Atlanta wants to dump salary, they would take a step back into rebuilding mode if they trade Smith. With Joe Johnson already gone, the Hawks would be a cellar dweller next season.

That's fine for them if they want to rebuild, shed salary and perhaps make a move for Dwight Howard.

The Lakers need to get Smith. He's better than Gasol and can be a piece to build around for years. He has exciting athleticism, and the Big Three of him, Kobe and Steve Nash would make the Lakers one of the best teams in basketball. Add that trio to Andrew Bynum and a solid bench and the Lakers could easily overtake Oklahoma City.

The Lakers don't need to be fancy. A Smith-for-Gasol trade is just what the doctor ordered. He would re-invigorate Kobe Bryant. Plus, Smith and Steve Nash would team up for some ferocious alley-oops.

It's pretty clear: Smith is a huge upgrade for the Lakers. He's simply a better player than Gasol and has much more long-term potential. They should pull the trigger right away.