Potential Landing Spots and Trade Packages for Josh Smith
My oh my, how the superstars continue to fall from grace in Atlanta.
First, there was Joe Johnson and now, there's Josh Smith. Truthfully, even before the Atlanta Hawks dealt Johnson to the Brooklyn Nets, Smith's future embodied ambiguity.
That is, until now.
According to Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports, the Hawks have resigned to dealing Smith before the NBA's trade deadline. Nothing is imminent, but it appears that the forward's destructive behavior and fleeting loyalty has finally pushed this union beyond repair.
So, now what?
To start, I'd grab a tropical beverage and your favorite candy bar, because it's going to be awhile. Baleful persona and all, a barrage of suitors are going to lineup with the hopes of landing Smith's services and the Hawks will be forced to sift through a vast array of offers.
Trading the yet-to-be-named-an-All-Star is easier said, written and theorized than done, though. Intricacies that stretch beyond his cataclysmic personality exist, such as striking an accord that benefits all parties involved.
Atlanta's list will also (likely) be limited to teams Smith would be open to re-signing with. Set to explore free agency this summer, no team will trade any assets of ample value if Smith remains a flight risk. And yeah, his erratic, and sometimes cancerous behavior will play a role as well.
Which teams will look past his conflicting persona and make a push for the athletically inclined Smith? And which of those represent the best fits?
Smith's tenure in Atlanta seems to have come to end, yet the road to his ultimate departure has only just begun.
*All stats used in this article were compiled from Basketball-Reference, Synergy Sports and 82games.com unless otherwise noted.
6. Dallas Mavericks
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Atlanta Hawks Get: C Chris Kaman and SF Shawn Marion
Dallas Mavericks Get: PF Josh Smith and SF DeShawn Stevenson
According to Zach Lowe of ESPN's Grantland, Smith mentioned the Mavericks as a team he'd like to play for, and Dallas was undoubtedly listening.
Before you litter the comments section calling for my job, understand this: The Hawks would be hard-pressed to even get this much out of Mark Cuban.
Sure, the Bank of Cuban is open, but Smith is a player Dallas could afford to chase during free agency and not give up anything. Still, the prospect of adding another star alongside Dirk Nowitzki in time to make a strong playoff push would undoubtedly peak Cuban's interest.
In Smith, the Mavericks would get a versatile forward who can man the 3 or 4 spot and is thus a strong fit alongside the inside-out stylings of Nowitzki. They'd also be getting a familiar (thought not so friendly) defensive face in Stevens.
For the Hawks, some would be turned off by a package of Kaman and Marion, but I'm not.
Kaman allows the Hawks to shift Al Horford to his true power forward position almost full-time and his $8 million comes off the books upon season's end. His recent concussion is believed to be minor as well.
In Marion, Atlanta would be getting a defensive-oriented forward who can score some as well. He won't be able to completely replace the offensive void left by Smith, but the Hawks have other perimeter scorers even without Lou Williams to do that.
Unlike Kaman, Marion's contract won't come off the books until after next season, but that's just in time for the free-agency frenzy of 2014.
Is this a trade that sustains the Hawks for the future?
Not at all, but it keeps them competitive for a year and two without compromising their ability to pursue any available big names.
5. Indiana Pacers
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Atlanta Hawks Get: SF Danny Granger
Indiana Pacers Get: PF Josh Smith
I'm sorry, but this one has the potential to make so much sense it hurts.
Of the many teams Zach Lowe mentioned who could target Smith, the Pacers were one of them.
Not only has Indiana proved it could win without Granger, but Smith can work both in the post and on the perimeter. Given that Roy Hibbert is averaging an unimpressive 9.8 points per game, the Pacers could certainly use Smith's 16.8 to help jumpstart their 29th-ranked offense.
Though Smith's ability to score from the inside and out should be enough, it must be noted that his tendency to block shots, force steals and just play superior on-ball defense overall will continue to further the cause of the league's already top-ranked defensive team.
You should be. Just in case you're not, let it also be known that David West is a free agent upon season's end. Though he has emerged as a statistical and emotional leader for Indiana, he is 32 and operating on surgically repaired knees. Obtaining Smith allows the Pacers to graciously bid adieu to him upon season's end or retain him without the pressure of carrying their interior attack.
Now, how about Hotlanta?
A first-round pick would undoubtedly have to grease hands here, courtesy of Granger's extended absence thus far, but I actually love this trade for the Hawks.
Most see Granger's $14 million salary next year and automatically assume Atlanta would run, but I see them welcoming him with open arms. He has the potential to lead them in scoring and is more emotionally prepared to lead the team than Smith has ever been.
Latching onto Granger and his guaranteed 18-22 points per game then affords the Hawks one more season of playoff contention, without compromising their ability to chase big names in 2014, or rather, the summer that actually matters.
Is Granger's knee injury of concern?
Sure, but he's a reasonable 29 years of age and has never missed more than 20 games in a season prior to this year.
The fact that he and I share the same first name is merely a bonus Atlanta.
4. Los Angeles Lakers
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Atlanta Hawks Get: SF Devin Ebanks, PF Pau Gasol and SG Jodie Meeks
Los Angeles Lakers Get: SG Anthony Morrow, C Johan Petro and PF Josh Smith
The Lakers were among Zach Lowe's list of potential Smith suitors, and while I'm not convinced the forward is the perfect fit for Los Angeles, he sure beats a bellicose Gasol. I'd also be lying if I said the Lakers couldn't do worse.
Despite his poor three-point shooing (29.1 percent), Smith can be the stretch-4 Gasol can't. He's more comfortable (not efficient, but comfortable) on the perimeter and equally as capable at defending power forwards as well.
Smith also increases the likelihood of Dwight Howard remaining in purple and gold. The two played AAU ball together and are known friends.
Don't sleep on the Morrow and Petro acquisitions either. With Gasol leaving, the Lakers need a backup center not named Robert Sacre and Petro could provide some valuable minutes. And while Morrow has been injured, he's another shooter to add to Mike D'Antoni's trigger-happy fold.
Some would be against relinquishing Meeks, but he often finds himself buried on the bench and must be included so Los Angeles has the roster space to accommodate the incoming personnel.
Our good friends in Atlanta would also be mistaken not to consider this deal.
General manager Danny Ferry and company weren't keen on dealing Smith for Gasol originally, but knowing what Pau is capable of at center could change their stance. Trading Morrow also allows them to keep the league's leading three-point gunner in Kyle Korver.
Toss in the fact that Gasol's contract comes off the books in time for the Hawks to get their summer-of-2014 on and they, like the Lakers, could do much worse.
3. Denver Nuggets
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Atlanta Hawks Get: PG Jose Calderon (Toronto), SG Wilson Chandler (Denver) and C Timofey Mozgov (Denver)
Denver Nuggets Get: F Josh Smith (Atlanta)
Memphis Grizzlies Get: PF Ed Davis (Toronto), SF Linas Kleiza (Toronto) and SG Anthony Morrow (Atlanta)
Toronto Raptors Get: SF Rudy Gay (Memphis) and PF Darrell Arthur (Memphis)
Let's get to it.
The Nuggets are another team Zach Lowe mentions as a suitor for Smith, and this is no surprise.
Smith would give Denver the post scorer it doesn't have in JaVale McGee, Kenneth Faried or Kosta Koufos, and can also help spread the defense with his ability to hit the outside shot, albeit inconsistently. It's also known the Nuggets are interested in moving Chandler and Mozgov (and his expiring contract) who don't appear to be too happy in Denver unless someone is injured.
Moving onto Atlanta, they get a reasonably priced and wildly athletic swingman who can do a bit of everything in Chandler. Mozgov also adds some post depth as well and is a player the Hawks could easily part ways with at the end of the season.
By taking on Calderon, Atlanta also receives a point guard who can play off the ball and thus replace much (if not more) of what they lost in Lou Williams. Again, it doesn't hurt that his contract is history upon season's end as well.
Moving Calderon to the Hawks then allows Toronto to get over what Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reported was the final hump of its Gay pursuit. The Raptors would get Gay and Arthur, whom they also covet, by shipping Davis and Kleiza to the Grizzlies.
For Memphis' part, not only do they get a shooter who can replace some of Gay's scoring from Atlanta, but this deal saves them nearly $9 million in salary. And as Wojnarowski reports, even after the Marreese Speights trade, the Grizzlies are still looking to cut an ample amount of payroll.
Underestimating Davis' value to Memphis isn't allowed here, either. He gives the Grizzlies an athletic fiend who can more than replace Arthur, and ultimately serve as Zach Randolph's successor.
You betcha. But for teams like the Grizzlies and Hawks looking to shed payroll, it makes plenty of sense.
Just as it fits the blueprints of those looking to stockpile talent in the Nuggets and Raptors.
2. Houston Rockets
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Atlanta Hawks Get: PF Terrence Jones (Houston), PF Patrick Patterson (Houston) and PF Derrick Williams (Minnesota)
Houston Rockets Get: SG Malcolm Lee (Minnesota) and F Josh Smith (Atlanta)
Minnesota Timberwolves Get: SF Carlos Delfino (Houston) and PF Donatas Motiejunas (Houston)
Per Chad Ford of ESPN.com, the Rockets are in the market for a high-octane-4 and I can't think of anyone better to run with Jeremy Lin and James Harden than Smith.
Unlike most teams, Houston has plenty of cap space and young talent, which means they can build an enticing package for Atlanta. It also means they would be hard-pressed to strike a deal for an eight-figure man straight up.
Enter the Timberwolves.
Minnesota has been shopping Williams for quite some time now and a package of Delfino and Motiejunas, along with a future second-rounder from Houston should be enought to get them to part with him.
In Delfino, the Timberwolves get a savvy veteran who stands to improve their three-point shooting. He's connecting on 40.5 percent of his deep-balls, brings leadership to the locker room, and his contract expires after next season.
Motiejunas is the key here. As a seven-footer who can both score and defend, he could serve as a viable replacement to Nikola Pekovic should Minnesota trade him or watch him leave during free agency. Sure, he's raw, but the potential is there.
Atlanta, though, might be the real winners here.
The Hawks get a promising (yet underachieving) Williams whose skill set rivals that of Smith's and also a budding Jones who can provide both interior and exterior relief. Patterson, while undersized, would also provide some additional post scoring as well.
Houston would undoubtedly have to send over one of its own (or someone else's) first round pick to get the ball rolling with Atlanta, yet the Rockets' battery of young prospects is bound to peak the interest of both the Timberwolves and Hawks.
Smith needs a home, and I can think of few places better than Houston for him to settle down long term.
1. Boston Celtics
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Atlanta Hawks Get: PF Pau Gasol (Los Angeles)
Boston Celtics Get: PF Josh Smith (Atlanta)
Los Angeles Lakers Get: SG Anthony Morrow (Atlanta) and SF Paul Pierce (Boston Celtics)
Here. We. Go.
The biggest snag in this potential deal becomes Boston and Los Angeles' willingness (or lack thereof) to help each other out. Pierce's feelings about the Lakers might not help either.
But to that I ask: Who the hell cares?
This deal can help everybody.
Broken record style, I continue to note that the Hawks should be making deals that keep them competitive this year and next, while allowing them to go buck wild during 2014 free agency.
Gasol ensures Atlanta contends for the playoffs for the next two seasons, and the 25.9 PER he's posting at the five allows Horford to shift back to the power forward slot.
For the Lakers, they could go after a younger Smith to pair with Howard, but as I admitted previously, his 29.3 percent clip from deep isn't conducive with Los Angeles' offense, no matter how much they claim they changed it.
The same cannot be said of Pierce. He's shooting 35.1 percent from deep and given his ability to both create his own shot while complementing a prolific point guard like Steve Nash (or should I now say Kobe Bryant?), he's a stretch-4 everyone in Hollywood would come to love.
I'd also be hard-pressed to believe the Lakers turn this down after they considered making a play for Rudy Gay. By that logic, both Pierce and the sharp-shooting Morrow stand to be much better fits.
What's that? He's 35, three years older than Pau, you say?
Well, again, who cares?
Not only is just $4 million of Pierce's salary guaranteed next season, but his contract expires upon the year's end should the Lakers hold onto him—just like Gasol's would. Thus, his presence allows them to contend for two more years without dismantling their plans for 2014.
As for the Celtics, they've already expressed interest in Smith. He represents a young body who can both defend and score; he's someone who will eventually thrive off Rondo's presence.
Don't underestimate his ability to prolong Kevin Garnett's career even further, as it will provide him with the post relief he so desperately craves and needs. Just as Doc Rivers will provide Smith with the hard-nosed guidance he needs to establish himself as a legitimate star.
Shipping Pierce won't be easy to begin with, let alone sending him to Tinseltown, but Jeff Green was supposed to fill the Paul Pierce role at some point, so why not now?
The time has come for Danny Ainge to blow Beantown up, and there's no better way to do that than by bringing in a younger cornerstone to build around.