USA TODAY Sports
Atlanta Hawks' Josh Smith
With the third-best record in the Western Conference, the Los Angeles Clippers have been a great story.
They're deep and effective on both ends of the floor, and in Chris Paul they have that elite-level superstar needed to win a championship.
Free agency is rapidly approaching for Paul, though, and it might be time for the Clippers to push all their chips into the middle of the table.
Josh Smith appears to be the best player available in the trade market. If the Clippers can acquire Smith without giving up DeAndre Jordan, they could roll out a lineup that would be unmatched in terms of athleticism.
Whether Smith eventually uses the minutes of small forward Caron Butler in the starting lineup, or the reserve power forward minutes of Lamar Odom, the Clippers are a more dangerous team with J-Smoove on board.
They would have to part ways with at least Eric Bledsoe and a first-round pick to make this move. They'd also probably need a third team to facilitate this deal, but it is one of those high-risk, high-reward moves that could pay off big for L.A.
Josh Smith would only be a rental for the duration of the 2012-13 campaign. The Clippers are in no position to offer Smith a max contract. But if that rental helped Paul advance to the NBA Finals, it would be worth it.