The Atlanta Hawks are a solid team. They can win in the NBA.
"We've played together for a while now," Josh Smith said. "We're as anxious as everyone else. We still think we have what it takes to win in this league."
They have a first year coach, Larry Drew, who is doing a fine job. They also have a general manager who gives the team more than enough talent to win, a solid starting lineup, the reigning sixth man of the year and a deep bench.
Still, the Hawks are not a championship caliber team. They won 47 games in '08-'09, 53 last year and are off to a good start again, but are never considered with the Heat, Celtics and Magic as championship contenders. They need a breakthrough in the playoffs to be considered a perennial contender.
However, the Hawks made very few changes to their roster this summer while the other teams got better, essentially standing pat in the free agent market and trades while other teams bolstered their lineups and benches.
The question for the Hawks now is do they deal Josh Smith in hopes of taking that next step? He signed an extension before the '08-'09 season and is doing everything he can to live up to it, but with his contract and the new extensions recently signed by Al Horford and Joe Johnson, they cannot afford to add any more salary.
The Hawks have already made it clear they would love to add a center, so they can slide Horford into his natural power forward position. They tried and failed to add Shaq this summer in hopes of doing just that.
Offering Josh Smith in a trade would bring back almost any player they wanted in the league. Leaving them only to figure out what player makes them a championship contender or at least a contender in the Eastern Conference.
Trading Smith would allow them to slide Marvin Williams into a starting roll permanently and give him more minutes, so they can finally see what they have in him. He is only 24, but has not lived up to lofty expectations yet.
A clear shake-up is needed in Atlanta, but they need to do it without changing the fact that they have a perennial 50-win team on their hands. Trading Josh Smith for a top notch center gives them the best chance to do this because Williams can step into his roll. Some options are:
Greg Oden: The Blazers declined to pick up his option and are supposedly looking to cut bait.
Nene: If the Nuggets decided to trade Melo, much of their team could become available.
Chris Kaman: The Clippers have the look of a team that is about to go young and will be dumping veterans.
The Hawks are already a playoff lock, but with a change like this we might be seeing them deep into the summer.