Josh Smith Rumors: Top Potential Landing Spots Leading Up to 2013 Trade Deadline

Dan Favale@@danfavaleFeatured ColumnistFebruary 19, 2013

Josh Smith Rumors: Top Potential Landing Spots Leading Up to 2013 Trade Deadline

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    Josh Smith is no longer a source of uncertainty...for now.

    Though the Atlanta Hawks had "convinced" multiple teams they were going to deal the oft-conflicted forward prior to the trade deadline, they ultimately didn't.

    Atlanta pulled out of Josh Smith talks with Milwaukee late, kept pushing until the end. Should make for an interesting summer.

    — Sam Amick (@sam_amick) February 21, 2013

    Atlanta's refusal to deal Smith comes as somewhat of a surprise after it tested the market so aggressively. But while he remains with the Hawks, let's not fool ourselves into believing this soap opera is finished, because it's not.

    Smith will become an unrestricted free agent this summer and will have the right to sign with any team he wants. The Hawks, however, can still work out a sign-and-trade to receive something in return.

    By doing that, Atlanta is able to capitalize off Smith's departure and the forward himself is then eligible to receive a full five-year contract. 

    Don't rule out the possibility of the Hawks retaining Smith beyond this season either. They still have plenty of cap space to burn, and bringing in another top-tier talent could be just what Atlanta needs to convince Smith to stay.

    Indulge in the bliss and certitude that comes immediately following the NBA's trade deadline, because knowing how tenuous and ambivalent the relationship between the Hawks and Smith still is, said euphoria won't last very long.

    *All stats used in this article were compiled from Basketball-Reference, Synergy Sports and unless otherwise noted.

Josh Smith Stays Put

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    Well, that was pretty anti-climatic.

    The NBA trade deadline came and went, and Josh Smith will remain a member of the Atlanta Hawks.

    Per Ric Bucher of NBC Sports, the Hawks had the opportunity to trade Smith to the Milwaukee Bucks, but pulled out of it last minute:

    Source: Atlanta Hawks blow up deal at last minute that would've sent Josh Smith to Milwaukee. Hawks would've re-ceived Ekpe Udoh, Luc Mbah-Moute, Beno Udrih and a protected No. 1 pick. Can't imagine the Bucks are happy having invested so much time in trying to make it happen. Leaves big question now if Hawks can do better this summer.

    I honestly can't say I blame the Hawks. That would have been a horrible get for someone of Smith's caliber. 

    Credit the Bucks, however, for attempting to make it happen without trading Monta Ellis or Brandon Jennings. That's pretty bold.

    Anyway, it looks like the Smith saga will continue for now. Look for the Hawks to shop him in a sign-and-trade once again as he navigates the free agency waters upon season's end.

Bucks Lone Favorite to Land Josh Smith

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    The race to acquire Josh Smith may now be down to one team.

    Per Sam Amick of USA Today, the Phoenix Suns do not believe that they will be the ones to land the forward.

    The Suns don't expect to land Atlanta's Josh Smith before deadline, "Won't happen," I'm told. Milwaukee seen as leader in that clubhouse.

    — Sam Amick (@sam_amick) February 21, 2013

    According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, the Milwaukee Bucks are the favorite now.

    Atlanta and Milwaukee still seriously engaged on Josh Smith, league sources tell Y! Sports.

    — Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) February 21, 2013

    Broken record style, it's important to remember the Atlanta Hawks are under no pressure to move Smith by the deadline. If they're not satisfied with the offers coming in, they can just hold onto him and sort this out over the summer.

    As such, barring an overwhelming offer coming out of left field, we might want to start warming to the idea that Smith isn't going anywhere.

Milwaukee and Phoenix Duking It out for J-Smoove

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    Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns have emerged as front-runners to acquire Josh Smith.

    Hawks, Bucks seriously talking on Josh Smith deal, sources tell Y! Monta Ellis, Ekpe Udoh among players discussed for Smith, Devin Harris.

    — Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) February 21, 2013

    Though he also names the Boston Celtics as a dark horse, both Phoenix and Milwaukee can offer more in terms of tangible assets and draft picks.

    Per Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News, the Brooklyn Nets haven't given up hope on acquiring Smith either.

    Nets havent given up on Josh Smith, still believe they're in it, according to a league source.

    — Stefan Bondy (@NYDNInterNets) February 21, 2013

    Brooklyn, who can arguably offer less than Boston, still seems like a long shot. The Nets' ability to remain in the hunt this long can't be ignored, though. If they manage to find a third team or convince the Atlanta Hawks to take what they're offering, team owner Mikhail Prokhorov will get his wish. 

    It's also worth noting, however, that Chris Broussard of is now reporting that there's a 50/50 chance the Hawks move Smith at all.

    One exec involved in talks w/ATL for J Smith now saying "50/50 chance he gets traded." That's a downgrade from yesterday.

    — Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) February 21, 2013

    Atlanta is in no position to accept an offer it doesn't deem adequate, so there's a legitimate chance that Smith heads absolutely nowhere.

    In fact, if none of the suitors push the bill a bit further with their offers, I would almost expect J-Smoove to remain with the Hawks.

Josh Smith Fine with Finishing Season in Atlanta?

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    Josh Smith is fine with remaining a member of the Atlanta Hawks...for now.

    According to Sekou Smith of, the star forward has no qualms about finishing the season in Atlanta and settling this over the summer.

    Contrary to what's been floated out there, Josh Smith, has no issue with finishing out season with the Hawks. Simply wants to get to FAgency

    — Sekou Smith (@SekouSmithNBA) February 21, 2013

    To an extent, I think the Hawks must feel the same say.

    Atlanta doesn't have to sell low on Smith now, it can wait and look for a better deal during the offseason.

    That said, such methodology does not come without risk. If Smith is hell-bent on spurning the Hawks for the team of his choice he could 1) forego that fifth year the Hawks can offer him and sign somewhere else or 2) force them into a corner, in which case they'll have to trade him for an underwhelming package anyway.

    Uncertainty continues to prevail here, so we'll just have to stay tuned to see where this saga takes us next.

Is the Field for Josh Smith Thinning?

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    The list of potential suitors for Josh Smith may be narrowing.

    Though there are a long list of teams believed to be in play for the star forward, three have emerged as frontrunners.

    Per Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, the Brooklyn Nets, Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns are the three teams the Atlanta Hawks are most likely to trade Smith to.

    Among teams and officials involved in Josh Smith talks, the three most likely destinations right now: Brooklyn, Milwaukee and Phoenix.

    — Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) February 20, 2013

    Phoenix and Milwaukee come as no surprise, but the same cannot be said of Brooklyn.

    Realistically, the Nets don't have anything better than Kris Humphries and Marshon Brooks to offer the Hawks. Unless they find a third and fourth team to bend over backwards to facilitate a deal, I just don't see them as a viable locale, let alone a favorite.

    As for Phoenix, any offer built around Marcin Gortat will likely catch the attention of just about everyone in Atlanta. The Suns don't have a wealth of talented young prospects per se, but they do have plenty of draft picks.

    Milwaukee has absolutely everything. From expiring contracts, to future draft picks, to a young John Henson and star-caliber guards in Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis, they have the pieces necessary to push a deal through.

    Where will Smith ultimately land?

    We still don't know. Recognizing that this is the NBA, though, I wouldn't count any interested factions out just because they didn't make Woj's list.

    Anything can happen.

A Wealth of Suitors Pursuing Smith

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    According to Jeff Zillgitt and Sam Amick of USA Today, Josh Smith and the Hawks are approaching a mutual parting of the ways:

    After eight-plus seasons, almost All-Star forward Josh Smith and the Atlanta Hawks have decided it's time for a change.

    So the Hawks are trying to trade Smith before Thursday's 3 p.m. ET trade deadline, and like that awkward Facebook friend page you come across, it's complicated.

    Several teams have expressed varying degrees of interest in Smith, among them the Milwaukee Bucks, Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, Los Angeles Clippers, San Antonio Spurs, Washington Wizards, and the Phoenix Suns.

    Zillgitt and Amick go on to write that while an overwhelming number of teams continue to pursue Smith, Atlanta won't hesitate to hold onto him and sort the mess out this summer.

    The Hawks don't want to just give Smith away and could arguably receive better offers in a sign-and-trade in the offseason.

    Presently, Smith has the potential to be but a rental, and teams aren't willing to part with valued assets for a temporary boost.

    So while all signs point to Smith and the Hawks severing ties, don't be surprised if said bond isn't untethered by the trade deadline.

7. Milwaukee Bucks

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    According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, the Milwaukee Bucks are among the many teams interested in Josh Smith, and I cannot figure out why.

    Well, that's not entirely true. I do get it.

    Smith would strengthen an already strong rebounding attack and help anchor a defense that is 18th points allowed per game (98.8). Though the Bucks are in the middle of the pack in terms of their offensive output (97.7 points a night), they have just three players averaging more than 11.2 points per game. Smith's 17.4 would certainly be a welcomed asset.

    Despite Milwaukee having a need for Smith and the intrigue of pairing him with Larry Sanders, the Bucks' involvement is somewhat puzzling.

    As Ken Berger of reports, the Hawks are looking for expiring contracts, draft picks and an assortment of young talent in exchange for J-Smoove. Milwaukee can easily satisfy the first two requirements, but doesn't have much in terms of tradeable talent.

    Atlanta would sooner hang onto Smith than trade for Ersan Ilyasova's pact, and Sanders is all but untouchable.

    I wouldn't go as far as to say the same for Brandon Jennings, but as he's headed for a payday this summer, the Hawks aren't likely to jump on acquiring him. With Jeff Teague in tow, they also don't have a need for him.

    Monta Ellis could provide an intriguing option and is one that Marc Stein of reports the Hawks are interested in, but I'm betting (hoping?) Atlanta comes to its senses on that one.

    On Bucks/Josh Smith talk: Hawks' interest believed to start w/Monta Ellis, since Monta could play next to Jeff Teague, whom Hawks still like

    — Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) February 19, 2013

    The real kicker, though, is Smith's future. Say the Bucks could acquire him. Is he likely to stay in Milwaukee? Better yet, will the Bucks want to pay Smith the max money he's seeking?

    Not at all. Knowing that, Milwaukee isn't about to hand over much of ample value in exchange for an essential rental.

    That the Bucks embody mediocrity, the very kind Smith is attempting to escape (like Jennings?) in Atlanta, nearly solidifies Milwaukee's status as a poor fit.

6. Phoenix Suns

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    The Phoenix Suns couldn't land Eric Gordon or Rudy Gay, so the only logical course of action would be to chase Josh Smith next.

    Or at least that's what they're thinking.

    UPDATE: Wednesday, Feb. 20, 9:28 p.m. ET by Grant Hughes

    According to Alex Kennedy of Hoospworld, the Suns may be offering a nice package of rotation players and a draft pick for Smith:

    As HOOPSWORLD first reported (, the Suns are pursuing Josh Smith and offering Marcin Gortat, Jared Dudley and a pick.

    — Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) February 21, 2013

    Marc Spears of Yahoo! isn't convinced any such deal is imminent, though.

    But hey, it wouldn't be the NBA trade deadline without plenty of contradictory reports. Still, the supposed deal on the table makes a fair amount of sense for the Hawks, as it'd bring in a potentially high pick and a pair of moderately priced veterans.

    Things are changing by the minute, so it'll be interesting to see which of these two reports ultimately proves most accurate.

    ---End of update---

    Per Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski, the Suns are prepared to make a serious play for Smith after missing out on an array of other top-tier talent.

    With the Hawks also in the market for a center, Phoenix presents an appealing trade partner. Any offer built around Marcin Gortat is guaranteed to pique Danny Ferry's interest.

    For Smith, though, a move to the Suns steers his career in the wrong direction.

    Phoenix has struggled to remain relevant since moving on from Amar'e Stoudemire, a quest that has only become more arduous without Steve Nash. If Smith's time in Atlanta has taught us anything, it's that he's not to be trusted as the sole building block of the future.

    With the Suns ranked in the bottom 10 of both offensive and defensive efficiency, they have a clear need for Smith as someone who can rebound, block shots, defend on the perimeter and score in varying sets.

    That said, per Synergy Sports (subscription required), nearly 40 percent of Phoenix's offensive sets come in the form of pick-and-rolls and spot-ups. Neither of those are areas in which Smith excels; he's shooting just 34.8 percent as a spot-up shooter and 43.2 percent as the "roll man" in pick-and-rolls.

    To that end, the Suns would have to tailor their offense to meet Smith's needs (more post-ups) or risk losing him over the summer. Their pursuit of both Gay and Gordon suggests they'd be willing to line Smith's pockets, but the team's depth (or lack thereof) will also factor into his decision. 

    He will end up abandoning Phoenix in the same way he is looking to leave Atlanta.

5. Brooklyn Nets

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    Here we go again.

    For the Brooklyn Nets, the adage "you can do anything you set your mind to" just doesn't apply here. Like, at all.

    Brooklyn has dangled underwhelming assets in hopes of landing a star all season long, and that deluded train of thought hasn't changed.

    Once again, our friend Adrian Wojnarowski over at Yahoo! Sports is reporting that the Nets only have eyes for Josh Smith as we near the trade deadline.

    Boston's active on several fronts, including discussions on Josh Smith. Brooklyn is solely focused on making a Smith deal.

    — Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) February 19, 2013

    Assuming Brooklyn can even strike a deal with Atlanta (it can't), the Nets don't present anything close to an ideal fit for Smith.

    Since P.J. Carlesimo has taken over, Brooklyn has played some top-notch defense. It has struggled to prevent easy buckets in transition, but it has done a nice job of keeping opponents out of the paint and forcing them into jumpers. Per, the Nets also rank seventh in defending the three.

    Landing Smith would allow the team to follow its current "defense first" motif, yet he stands to disrupt an already chaotic offensive attack. Brooklyn ranks 19th in points scored (95.5) and is in desperate need of either Deron Williams' immediate resurgence or someone not named Brook Lopez to score.

    Smith can't be that player. He's best served in an offense that varies its attack that runs both half- and full-court sets. The Nets currently rank last in possessions used per 48 minutes (88) and really wouldn't do Smith's value as a stretch forward justice.

    Let's not even pretend like he can be used in conjunction with the iso-oriented Joe Johnson and ball-dominating Williams, either. 

    No matter, though, because the Hawks aren't desperate or naive enough to accept a package of Kris Humphries and MarShon Brooks. And that third team Marc Stein of reports the Nets could seek out likely doesn't exist.

4. Philadelphia 76ers

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    I just don't see Josh Smith being what the Philadelphia 76ers need.

    According to John Mitchell of The Philadelphia Inquirer, however, that hasn't stopped the Hawks from offering them Smith in exchange for Spencer Hawes and Evan Turner.

    Admittedly, Philly is an attractive destination for Smith, and rightfully so. Doug Collins' stringent defensive regime suits Smith from the inside and out, and he would finally give the Sixers a reason to run the ball through the post.

    Lord knows they could use Smith's 17-plus points per game as well. Philadelphia is second-to-last in points scored per game (92.3), and Smith's improved three-point clip (35.4 percent) would be a valuable kick-out commodity should Andrew Bynum ever return.

    And yet Bynum is part of the problem. The Sixers spent a sizable sum re-signing Jrue Holiday earlier in the year and will now be tasked with deciding whether or not to give Bynum a max contract upon season's end.

    Philly has never been afraid to spend, but will it be keen on handing out two max contracts in the same summer?

    Doubtful. Yet if it shows any hesitance to offer Smith the money he so clearly craves, he could opt to take his talents elsewhere, and the Sixers will have given up Turner and Hawes for nothing.

    Again, I wouldn't consider the Sixers a horrible fit. They're worlds better than what the Nets, Suns and Bucks could ever present.

    At the same time, Philly is headed for a summer in which some major decisions will have to be made, and adding yet another headache before the Bynum debacle is resolved just isn't the smart play.

3. Washington Wizards

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    Josh Smith in a Washington Wizards uniform just makes sense, and the Wizards apparently share such sentiments.

    Though the Wizards are a new team with John Wall at the helm, they're still dead last in points scored per game (91.3). Smith's 17-plus points a bout not only improves that mark, but his 35.4 percent conversion rate from deep adds a valuable dynamic to a team that is 22nd in three-point accuracy (34.6 percent).

    Imagining Smith running the break with Wall and Bradley Beal boggles the mind—in a good way. Each are noticeably agile and are near impossible to defend in transition. 

    Pairing Smith with Nene is also an attention grabber. The former is no stranger to sharing the post with a big man. Nene's skill set actually resembles that of Al Horford's in many regards, ensuring a near-flawless transition.

    Not to be lost here is the importance each of the aforementioned players hold. Washington isn't the most flamboyant of markets, and a strong core would thus be needed to convince Smith to stay beyond this season.

    Breaking up this trio would be a viable option in any deal the Wizards strike, yet according to Chris Broussard of, they're not letting it come to that.

    In talks with ATL for Josh Smith, Wizards have said all but 3 players available: J Wall, B Beal & Nene

    — Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) February 19, 2013

    As a team that likely wouldn't hesitate to pad Smith's wallet with plenty of green, Washington remains an alluring locale. Preserving the state of its nucleus only furthers such a notion.

    Next to Wall, Beal and Nene, Smith isn't "The Man," but he's not merely a complementary piece either.

    Provided the Wizards can negotiate a deal that doesn't decimate their roster, they present the optimal tactical and emotional balance Smith needs to succeed, more than most might believe.

2. Boston Celtics

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    Danny Ainge continues to explore any and all avenues that would give the Boston Celtics a concrete direction, which has led him to Josh Smith.

    Per Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, acquiring Smith is one of the many "fronts" Boston is currently entertaining.

    Lack of expiring assets, young talent and the like aside, it's tough to argue against a potential union.

    With Rajon Rondo, Leandro Barbosa and Jared Sullinger done for the season, the Celtics need someone to usher in the rebuilding era or solidify their status as one of the league's elite. Smith can do both.

    If Boston is forced to blow up its roster in any deal, the team can pair Smith with Rondo, giving it a promising duo to build around. Should the Celtics wind up "stealing" the forward, though, he helps shield them from another rebuild.

    As a convocation that tends to vary its method of attack on offense, Smith's versatile stylings are a model fit. He's athletic enough to run the break but strong enough to bully his way toward the rim in the post.

    Smith also injects life into a listless rebounding unit. Boston is 29th in rebounds hoarded per game (40), and the rate at which Smith corrals them (8.6 a night) renders it all the more threatening.

    Defensively, Smith fits nicely within an aggregate that prides itself on controlling the pace of the game. He's spry enough to defend wings and built to body up in the paint. He also becomes the most formidable shot-blocker for a squad that is 26th in shots swatted.

    The likelihood of Smith landing in Boston remains low, though. The Celtics don't have the assets necessary to make the deal an actuality. Ainge could attempt to bring in a third team, but that would almost surely cost the Celtics Paul Pierce.

    Is that a price worth paying for Smith?

    Short of the Hawks inexplicably selling oh-so-low on their star forward, it looks like we'll find out soon enough.

1. Houston Rockets

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    From anywhere you're standing, the Houston Rockets are the closest thing to a perfect fit Josh Smith would ever find.

    Houston is indeed the youngest team in the NBA, but James Harden is the bona fide superstar alongside whom Smith has never had the opportunity to play. And the Rockets' high-octane offense is a system in which he has not had the luxury of playing.

    Presently, Houston is playing at the fastest pace in the league (96.2 possessions per 48 minutes), and per, that has them sitting second in fast-break points per night (18.9).

    Being the athletic fiend who is much better at slashing off the ball than people give him credit for, Smith would be the most deadly of scoring options next to Harden.

    But while Smith would be added affluence on an already wealthy offensive team, he has become a defensive necessity. The Rockets are second-to-last in points allowed per game (103.3), a trend that can't continue if they hope to make any kind of noise in the playoffs. 

    As one of the best shot-blockers and all-around defenders in the game, Smith would take Houston's two-way attack to a completely different level.

    Are the Rockets interested in dealing for him, though?

    Per Marc Stein of, they would rather obtain him over the summer when he becomes a free agent.

    With Houston set to have nearly $20 million in cap space and Smith all but a lock to desert the Hawks, Daryl Morey and crew's thinking makes sense.

    That said, the Rockets do have young assets to unload that Atlanta would be interested in, and if approached, I'm sure they'd change their stance.

    This pairing being the mutual gold that it is, how could they not?