It’s a question of to where and for who, not an if. The Atlanta Hawks want to get something out of Josh Smith before his contract runs out at the end of the season, and are looking to trade their power forward to a number of teams, including the Brooklyn Nets, Phoenix Suns, Milwaukee Bucks, Boston Celtics or the Houston Rockets.
The Boston Celtics are still mentioned in trade talks despite Kevin Garnett not willing to shed his no-trade clause for his contract. The Celtics aren’t aggressively trying to convince KG to give up on staying with the Celtics, but it seems that if they knew there was a chance of convincing him, they would be making a bit more of an effort. The Hawks aren’t the only team that tried sniffing in that direction; the Los Angeles Clippers have aimed at Garnett as well through various players but for now, it’s a no go.
Paul Pierce is also an option for the Hawks, with a contract that’s bigger than Smith’s ($16.7 million) but he has a player option for 2013-2014, worth $15.3 million. If the Hawks can’t get Pierce and a draft pick, or Rajon Rondo (owed $12 million a season until 2015), they probably won’t be heading in that direction.
The most likely of destinations seems to be the Brooklyn Nets, a team that’s also convinced they’ll be able to re-sign Josh Smith after the season, giving him the max contract he wants. There are no worries about luxury tax for the Nets, who are paying a lot of money to Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Brook Lopez and Gerlad Wallace, to name a few.
The Nets are willing to give Kris Humphries and Marshon Brooks to Atlanta for Smith, but it seems it’s going to take something more – either throwing in a first round draft pick to satisfy the Hawks, or somehow work a third team into the trade, giving the Hawks the young big man they want to add to the roster.
There is the Houston option, but the Rockets, with plenty of cap space and a need for some inside presence next to Omer Asik, are more likely to pursue Smith during the summer in free agency. They’re more likely to try and get an extra draft pick from teams looking to shed salary for luxury-tax reasons right before the trade buzzer.
And then there are the last two options – the Phoenix Suns and the Milwaukee Bucks. Both are really interested in Smith, but both are worried that they won’t be able to keep him beyond the end of the season. The Suns aren’t even postseason hopefuls this year. Josh Smith wants a maximum contract, and neither the Suns or the Bucks are too happy about crossing the luxury tax threshold.
Some say the Washington Wizards might be game for a Smith trade, but they’ve announced that three players – John Wall, Nene and Bradley Beal are untouchable, which doesn’t leave too many players the Hawks might like.