Tuesday, June 16, 2009

No Josh Smith News...I Think

It began with Chad Ford (Insider):
The big trade rumor flying around (if you're already tired of the Shaq-to-Cleveland talk) centers on the Hawks' Josh Smith. Several league sources told ESPN.com that the Hawks have been working hard the past few weeks to see whether they can find a taker for Smith.
Interesting, but certainly lacking in specifics which, I guess, is what makes it a rumor.

Sekou Smith addresses Smith's trade kicker that Ford mentioned further down in his piece as something that would seriously preclude trading Smith, something that makes me question the "working hard" part of rumor:
Normally, I’d take my garbage extinguisher and put down a silly, Hawks-related rumor before it starts burning. But not this one.

Even if the Hawks haven’t formally chatted up teams about the prospect of trading Smith, I know it’s been discussed internally. And here’s another warning, all those wanting to vote Smith off the island better be careful what you wish for. Aside from this being a win all the way around for Smith (if anything were to happen he’d get the $6 million, a move to a potentially better situation and he’d rid himself of all those folks groaning every time he does anything other than dunk or block a shot), it’s a huge gamble for the Hawks. There’s no way you move a player as young and talented as Smith without getting someone equally young and talented in return.

And Ford is absolutely right about one thing, there are plenty of teams that would love to snatch him away from the Hawks and plant him on their frontline for the next five to seven years and see just how much better he’ll get in that time.

I say this after having numerous conversations last summer and all season long with scouts and executives from teams around the league wondering just how good Smith might be if he played in another system (no one has ever seen him anywhere but in a Hawks uniform).
I've little doubt that Josh Smith draws more interest from other teams than anyone else on the Hawks' roster and, with the Hawks' roster both shallow and in flux, Rick Sund needs to keep all his options open. I don't think it's completely implausible that there's a team willing to take the one-time cash hit to acquire Smith, his reasonable contract, and his presumably untapped potential for a package that would make the Hawks better. I think it's unlikely but I may still be operating under the influence of an outsized notion* of Smith's potential.

*Though I think I'm closer to the truth than Jeff Schulz's inaccurate and incomplete attempt to list Smith's good qualities:
An enterprising reporter (work with me here) from the Entertainment Sports Programming Network reported that the Hawks have been working hard to find a taker for Smith – because, you know, you really have to labor to get somebody interested in a young player who can rebound, sky and run the floor, knucklehead tendencies notwithstanding.
Smith's limitations as a rebounder have been covered exhaustively in this space, "sky"-ing has a limited relationship to basketball skills (consider that a Mario West reference), running the floor is a fair cop, but Smith's value is overwhelmingly due to his shot blocking in particular and help-side defense in general--an odd thing to leave out of an argument against trading Smith, though perhaps not as odd as the cutie-pie swipe at Chad Ford from hard-hitting reporter Jeff "Scoop" Schultz.

What's most interesting to me about this story (if one ignores the low threshold for breaking Hawks news) is the implicit suggestion that there may not be a significant trade market for Joe Johnson thus the Hawks may not be able to use Johnson and his expiring contract to improve the team's future prospects. On the one hand, that's a little disappointing. On the other, I can't complain about anything that bring the heavy hand of reality to bear on the elements of the organization operating under the delusion that Joe Johnson is a player to build around.

EDIT: Chad Ford mentioned in his chat today that Smith's trade kicker is $7.2 million not $6 million. (5:09pm)


jrauch said...

While I'm no Josh Smith fan, the puzzling thing is trying to find a deal that might make sense for the Hawks from a competitive standpoint.
Draft picks this year? The weakest draft maybe this decade, so that's a bad idea.
Available point guards? Sure, Josh Smith for Chris Paul and call it a day. There's no real valuable point guard commodities that would fill that hole in the roster.
Center/power forward? See above.

I don't think Josh is going to become more than he currently is (a variation on the Dennis Green theme), unless there's new management here or he's in another system somewhere else, but its tough to see where somewhat equivalent value would come from, despite his flaws.

Unknown said...

I posted this a few weeks ago and I still think it makes sense for all teams involved. Smith to Memphis (who signed him to his current contract that the Hawks matched) Tyson Chandler to the Hawks, and give the Hornets the peanuts that's required to satisfy them, as the Thunder did before the trade deadline when they had dealt for Chandler. The Hawks then must find a way to get rid of Craig Claxton in a trade and sign Bibby. I think Horford can blossom is he's moved to his natural PF position and now the Hawks have their first 7 footer since Priest Lauderdale.