NBA Trade Rumors: Josh Smith Would Be More Valuable to Lakers Than Pau Gasol

Richard LangfordCorrespondent IDecember 17, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 09:  Injured Los Angeles Lakers Pau Gasol #16 (L) and Steve Nash #10 watch from the bench in street clothes the game against the Utah Jazz at Staples Center on December 9, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.  The Jazz won 117-110.  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 Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
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The return of Steve Nash is not going to magically make Pau Gasol a good fit with this Lakers team. 

Los Angeles would be better off moving him for someone who can help move Mike D'Antoni's offense, not slow it down.

Now would be the perfect time to call up the Atlanta Hawks and revisit a trade that the Los Angeles Times' Ben Bolch reports they proposed this past offseason.

Bolch reports that the Hawks called the Lakers about sending Josh Smith to Tinseltown for Gasol. He used that to propose this offer: "Gasol and Chris Duhon ($3.5 million) for Atlanta power forward Josh Smith ($13.2 million) and point guard Devin Harris ($8.5 million)."

The Hawks are playing well and they may have reservations about disrupting their chemistry, but most of Smith's numbers are slightly down from last year and his contract still expires at the end of this season.

In other words, if the Hawks wanted to make this trade in the offseason, there is little reason to think they wouldn't want to now, and this move makes way too much sense for the Lakers to ignore.

Los Angeles would lose height and rebounding in the swap, but the second they asked Mike D'Antoni to bring his fast-paced offensive ways, height and rebounding became became far less valuable.

Gasol, 32, is one of the most talented and polished big men in the league, but he needs touches in the post to succeed and he is not going to beat many power forwards in a foot race.

Smith, 27, on the other hand, is a beast in the open court. He has elite athleticism and he is an excellent ball handler for a player his size. 

Smith is not a great shooter, but he has good enough aim that his shot must be respected. He is also hitting a career-best 40.6 percent of his three pointers this season. This would improve the Lakers' spacing and help get off those quick looks that D'Antoni craves. 

Smith is also a solid defender in pick-and-roll situations and at 2.2, he is averaging a half-block more per game for his career than Gasol.

Team him with Dwight Howard, and it is going to get that much harder for the opposing point guards blowing by Steve Nash, or whoever else the Lakers throw out there, to get a shot off themselves or find one for a teammate.

This move would make the Lakers faster, quicker, younger, more explosive, and a team that is better suited to its head coach's style. What's not to like about that?