The NBA trade deadline is approaching, which means that the Atlanta Hawks are approaching decision time regarding Josh Smith.
Perhaps the most-talked-about player on the association’s rumor mill, Smith has garnered interest from a wide variety of teams, some of which have legitimate interest, while others are just checking in on the hybrid forward.
Regardless of who’s checking in, Smith is all but likely to be dealt. Pundits around the league believe there is more than a 61 percent chance that he gets dealt and that ratio increased on Thursday when Hawks general manager Danny Ferry reportedly said that Smith will not be re-signed this offseason, according to ESPN.com’s Chris Broussard.
Now that he’s all but likely to be dealt, here is the impact he would have on his three most realistic suitors.
San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs are typically one of the NBA’s superior rebounding teams, but nope, not this season. They have the 10th-worst total rebounding percentage in the league and Tim Duncan isn’t getting any younger.
Smith could help them in this area. He would he bring a younger and more agile presence into the paint, which would give Duncan some much needed assistance, something he hasn’t had this season. No player on the Spurs is averaging more than six rebounds per game except for Duncan, who averages nearly 10.
However, can Duncan sustain this newfound spark of energy as the finish line nears? Probably not. At the very least, he won’t be able to continue his solo act, which is where Smith would come in.
The change of scenery for Smith may open some doors for him. For one, the Spurs wouldn’t constantly count on him to score, like the Hawks do. San Antonio has Tony Parker, Duncan and Manu Ginobili to handle the scoring load. This would enable Smith to focus on the things he does best–rebound and play defense.
The Spurs don’t necessarily need Smith, as they’re in a perfectly fine situation as it stands. However, he would put them over the top–or even more over the top in their case.
The Nets’ interest in Smith changes regularly and will continue to do so over the next week. But, this reported speculation won’t progress any further until a third team is involved because the Nets don’t have the internal parts to do a simple two-team swap.
That is, if the Hawks don’t accept the Nets’ offer of Kris Humphries and Marshon Brooks, according to Steve Kyler of USA Today’s HoopsWorld. That offer may be the best the Hawks will get in coming days, opines Broussard.
Regardless of the specifics, let’s take a look at Smith’s potential effect on the Nets.
Again, defense and rebounding come to mind. The Nets have the 25th-worst isolation defense in the league and Smith is the 11th-best isolation defender. Obviously, there’s a connection, and no, Smith wouldn’t just provide interior defense. His lengthy frame and above-average footwork enables him to defend guards and slashing forwards too.
Gerald Wallace is a similar defender, boasting incredible athleticism and length. But his offense has been almost nonexistent this year, averaging just 8.9 points per game. Perhaps Brooklyn trades Humphries, which would clear space for both Wallace and Smith to fit the starting lineup.
But if one spot came down to Smith and Wallace, Smith would easily get the nod. He could help Brooklyn’s offense reach equilibrium, as 22.7 percent of their points come from 3-pointers. And when their offense becomes stagnant due to the fact that they heavily rely on isolations to score, Smith could move without to ball to create some activity.
By adding the dynamic Smith, the Nets may become the Miami Heat’s biggest foe in the Eastern Conference. And since Dwight Howard is unlikely to sign with the Nets in the offseason, Smith may be their next best bet.
The Boston Celtics have taken Rajon Rondo’s season-ending injury as an incentive to play better, which has general manager Danny Ainge in a difficult position–to blow up the roster or to continue to ride their winning vibe?
Boston could be Smith’s primary destination, according to Gery Woelfel of the Racine (Wis.) Journal-Times, according to this tweet.
I keep hearing Josh Smith’s primary destination is Boston.
— Gery Woelfel (@GeryWoelfel) February 14, 2013
That would make sense talent-wise simply because the Celtics lack size, rebounding (worst total rebounding percentage in NBA) and youth. That tweet doesn’t specify who would go in a trade, but Paul Pierce could be a name that’s tossed around because Atlanta could proceed to deny his player option in the offseason, which would create cap room for Howard–still an unlikely scenario.
If the Celtics were to trade for Smith, they’d likely have to get some form of assurance that he won’t leave them in free agency. Otherwise, there’s little reason to acquire him for less than half a season, especially with the Celtics’ future being a bit foggy.
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