NBA Trade Rumors: Breaking Down Best Destinations for Atlanta Hawks F Josh Smith

Matt Fitzgerald@@MattFitz_geraldCorrespondent IIIJanuary 19, 2013

MIAMI, FL - DECEMBER 10: Josh Smith #5 of the Atlanta Hawks looks on during a game against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena on December 10, 2012 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Atlanta Hawks mercurial forward Josh Smith is among the most physically gifted and versatile players in the NBA, but hasn't quite realized his All-Star potential.

With the team struggling in losing seven of nine games, Smith's recent one-game suspension and his impending free agency this summer, trade rumors are swirling around the talented 27-year-old. GM Danny Ferry has plenty of cap space, but it would likely take a big chunk of change to keep Smith as a Hawk.

CBS Sports' Ken Berger has the latest on Smith's situation:

"As far as moving forward and whatever changes will be made, that's more so management's job to field those calls and make the decisions they feel like are best to move forward," Smith's agent, Wallace Prather, told

...Among the teams that would appeal to Smith are Dallas, Houston and Memphis, a league source told

During Smith's suspension, the Hawks notched a convincing 109-95 win over the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday, defeating former max contract teammate Joe Johnson in the process.

Here is a breakdown of the franchises that Smith would best fit in a prospective trade.


Dallas Mavericks

As ESPN Dallas' Tim MacMahon reports, owner Mark Cuban has made it widely known that his front office will be aggressive at the trade deadline.

Even if Ferry can't find any long-term assets in this deal per say, he can still alleviate himself of the Smith in Atlanta.

Smith is making $13.2 million this season and will likely demand more if he is meant to be a cornerstone of the Hawks' rebuilding project. Dallas has several expiring contracts that could help facilitate a deal, even if another team or two is involved.

Berger notes that the Mavs have yet to express interest in Smith specifically, but the trade deadline is still more than a month away.

The Mavericks have struggled for most of the season, although they have won four straight and have received a spark with the return of Dirk Nowitzki to the starting lineup. But they may be looking to shake things up by bringing Smith in anyway.

Dallas is giving up 102.3 points per game, which is 27th in the NBA. Smith would give them much needed help on that end of the court.

Rick Carlisle is also an exceptional coach, and could be the one to finally get the most out of Smith. At this point in his career, it doesn't seem like Smith will ever be the leader of a franchise.

With plenty of veterans on the team to help mentor him, Smith could really benefit from a stint in Dallas. Even if it's only for the remainder of this season, it's a good opportunity for him to improve his stock should he ultimately decide test the free-agent market.


Houston Rockets

Although the backcourt combination of James Harden and Jeremy Lin has served the Rockets well on the offensive end, they remain very susceptible on defense.

No one gives up more points in the NBA than Houston, and Smith would plug in as a key cog immediately. The nucleus of Lin, Harden, the pleasantly surprising Chandler Parsons, Smith and Omer Asik would provide the Rockets with a formidable starting five for the future.

The playmaking ability of Lin and Harden would create opportunities for Smith to get plenty of quality looks at the basket. Both guards dominate the basketball and are running a highly efficient offense, which wouldn't require Smith to be the team's leading scorer like he is now in Atlanta.

Patrick Patterson and Marcus Morris have both been solid contributors this season, but both are too perimeter-oriented and not strong enough on defense to keep Rockets opponents out in the paint.

With the additional uncertainty surrounding first-round pick Royce White at power forward, taking a risk on Smith is a strong alternative at this point. If it doesn't work out, he can simply walk in the offseason, and the Rockets have the cap room to keep him on if all goes well.

Morris would be the more likely trade piece in a deal involving Smith, and Houston GM Daryl Morey could also throw in draft picks to help the Hawks rebuild.


Boston Celtics

The ability head coach Doc Rivers has of juggling multiple strong personalities in Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo would bode well for Smith in Boston. He also averages 8.3 rebounds per game—far more than Garnett's team-leading 6.1.

The Celtics are last in the league in rebounding and have an overabundance of swing men that could be attractive to the Hawks.

Not only could Smith help on the glass immediately, but this Boston squad isn't really built to win beyond this season. Smith would have the golden opportunity of learning from future Hall of Famers who have won a title together while not being pressured to be one of the prominent players on a championship-caliber team.

Jeff Green has been largely disappointing for the Celtics, and GM Danny Ainge could look to move him to a different environment. Avery Bradley's return to the lineup could also put Courtney Lee and Leandro Barbosa on the market.

ESPN's Kevin Pelton (Insider, by subscription only) suggests a deal for Lee and Green, but both players have sizable, long-term contracts that Ferry may not be willing to take on.

Jessica Camerato of reports that Barbosa's mother-in-law is in a coma, which was why he was absent from the team for a period of time. He is a valuable, versatile player currently buried in the Celtics' rotation, and could be a strong candidate for a fresh start.

The hype behind a potential deal involving Smith and Celtics has died down in recent months.

However, if there were any way that Smith could land in Boston, it would be an ideal fit for both sides' immediate and long-term futures.