After spending the first seven years of his career in Atlanta, trading Smith would only benefit the Hawks as they attempt to advance through the Eastern Conference playoffs after three-straight years of second-round exits.
Atlanta is a perennial contender in the East, sitting tightly behind the Miami Heat, Chicago Bulls and Boston Celtics. Reasons for their inability to advance into that upper-echelon sit directly on Smith’s notable shortcomings and the Hawks lack of size at center.
The seven-year veteran had one of his best regular seasons in 2011, averaging 16.5 points per game while shooting 47 percent from the field and a career-high 33 percent from behind the arc.
Once entering the playoffs, Smith shot 3-of-24 from three-point land, eliciting an ugly 12 percent three-point percentage. He had the second most turnovers on the team, 26, and had only one more personal foul than fan-favorite Zaza Pachulia to lead the team with 39.
Stats are telling, but Smith’s attitude on the court and basketball smarts are even more reason for him to be moved.
The outside-shooting forward is reluctant to crash the paint and occasionally lazy getting back in transition. The boos emitting from the Highlight Factory due to the untimely three-point attempt in crunch-time from Smith has caused Hawks fans to grow tired of the Atlanta native.
Hawks fans, reportedly, are not the only ones wanting Smith gone though.
According to Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Smith is demanding a trade out of Atlanta as well.
Smith no doubt has grown tired of being booed out of the building and getting minimal support from the Atlanta ownership group.
Atlanta won’t be willing to trade Smith for just anything though.
If Smith is traded, he will not be traded for a small forward or swapped for just another power forward. They would have to move the 6’9” forward for a center or a package of players that benefits the team’s aspirations for 2012 and upcoming seasons.
Potentially losing shooting guard Jamal Crawford to free agency and point guard Kirk Hinrich for at least the first month of the season due to surgery on his shoulder could speed up moving the 26-year-old. A veteran big man could instantly boost Atlanta toward the top-tier of teams in the East.
While Hawks fans should be gracious for the progress Smith has provided to their franchise, there is no question that the “Josh Smith Era” should be over in Atlanta.