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Atlanta Shopping Josh Smith; Boston On His Radar

Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski reports that the Atlanta Hawks are gauging interest in forward Josh Smith. The relevant passages in the story:

Smith hasn’t requested a trade, but has privately told league friends that the Boston Celtics, New Jersey Nets, Houston Rockets and Orlando Magic are his preferred destinations should the Hawks decide to move him.

“The relationship has run its course,” said a league source with knowledge of the dynamic.

Hawks GM Rick Sund has long coveted Kevin Garnett(notes) and Ray Allen(notes) – two aging Celtics entering the final years of contracts – but Celtics GM Danny Ainge has yet to show an inclination to break up his core for next season.

Aside from Smith’s interest in Boston, and Sund’s interest in Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, it’s unclear whether Danny Ainge has any return interest in Smith. Or whether he’d act on it if he did.

As we’ve recently discussed, Smith is exactly the kind of player that Boston could find intriguing as part of the coming rebuilding. His game matches well with Rajon Rondo’s (and the two were roommates and close friends at Oak Hill Academy). He’s still young (25) and a defensive force and he fits with Doc Rivers’ recent comments about needing a more athletic team. And with the coaching upheaval in Atlanta the last few years, there’s a possibility a stable environment, a more democratic offense, and an elite point guard could all help Smith make the leap as he enters his prime.

Still, any pursuit of Smith comes with a few problems:

  • As Wojnarowski notes above, Boston would have to send out one of the big three to get Smith in return. Atlanta will be looking for cap relief and a legitimate return of talent, and those two factors, along with the need to match salaries, means Boston would have to move either Garnett or Allen’s expiring deals or Paul Pierce. If you think the window’s closed for 2011-12 without major roster changes, that’s not going to hold you back. If you’ve got emotional attachments that would prevent you from dealing one of the big three… well… you’re not Ainge, who is disloyal to everything but winning (the exception to that ‘anyone can go at anytime’ truism may be Pierce, who will likely retire a Celtic because of how he’s valued by ownership).
  • Smith’s contract runs for two more years at $12.5 and $13.3M, which would wipe out much of Boston’s 2012 cap space, which Ainge would need to land Dwight Howard or Chris Paul or Deron Williams. However, if like most observers, you’ve got those three ticketed for somewhere that isn’t known for its Duck tours, the question arises: why wait to rebuild? Why not acquire the pieces as they become available in trade if you’re not likely to make a splash on the free agent market?
  • A Rondo-Smith-Pierce core costs a lot of money but doesn’t win any titles. You’d still be looking for an A-list guy to add to that group, but probably wouldn’t have the money to get him especially if you resign either KG or Allen to a supporting role-style contract for 2012-13.

CSNNE’s A. Sherrod Blakely reports that so far the C’s have had “no discussions whatsoever” on Smith (although, they’re not going to tip their hand if they have, are they?) so don’t get your hopes up for Smith because this is more an example of the kind of decision Ainge will be dealing with over the next 12-14 months, rather than anything actively being discussed.

Still, I’d submit that, practically speaking, for Boston, the summer of 2012 has already begun.

  • TMC

    Would it be a complete pipe dream to package Green in a sign and trade with Bradly, this years first round pick and cash for Smith? That package makes the salaries work and gives ATL some salary relief something to work with, even if it isn't equal talent.

    It kills our cap room, but leaves Garnett or Allen as a trade chips and would give us what we are looking for, it would probably put Smith into a 6th man/ super sub role at the 3 or 4 (basically what we hope we would get out of Jeff Green).

    Going forward, we would need to look more at this as a move to do a Rondo/Smith/third player core rather than including Pierce. As great as Pierce has been to this organization we can't make many long term franchise decisions on a 34 year old wing.

  • jmac1776

    The key point seems to be: how important is cap flexibility for next summer? If Danny thinks that he can't lure any free agents to Boston (it gets cold, boo hoo!), then KG and Ray's expiring deals should be trade bait across the league. Is Josh Smith the best we can do for them? The other great point is that a Rondo-Pierce-Smith trio doesn't win any titles…

  • ed judson

    josh smith is a dog. he has the worst shot selection in the league

  • -JP

    we can't give up KG for Josh Smith, not enough talent in return even if KG is old and Smith is going into his prime. It would be intriguing to attempt to sign and trade Baby and Bradley, maybe a draft pick, if Atlanta would do that. Smith would be a HUGE upgrade over Baby. Then we have Smith as a backup 4 and Green mainly play backup 3 (he is better in that role anyway.) We still need a starting or backup Center, where is that coming from?

    I would rather trade Allen or KG (if we have to) for a legit Center, like Tyson Chandler. Its a lot easier to find a shooting guard (even in the draft) than a legit Center

  • skeeds

    I love the idea of JSmoove entering the mix, but he's not worth trading KG OR Ray. I don't like the idea of trading any of them at all, but if we have too, then just blow the whole thing up and go for a huge trade, get Chandler and Monta Ellis or something.

  • What

    Trading Ray is crazy. The offense will dramatically decline without his presence. Defenses will really start sagging.

  • dasein

    I don't see Smoove playing on a champion. Would he be exciting to watch, catching lobs from Rondo? Sure, but he doesn't help raise banner 18 IMO.

  • dalandan1

    I don't mind him on our team instead of Baby and Bradley. Think of a lineup that has the Big 4 with a revolving door for a 5th player that includes – Smith, Green, West, and O'neal. Seems like a solid 8 man crew. Now all we need is a Center and a wing, which we can get in the draft possibly.

    • Renato Afonso

      Atlanta would ever accept Baby and Bradley for Josh Smith. Mainly because most GM's out there don't like Baby at all (Bradley has some upside nad most teams wouldn't mind have him, but he's only a "filler" in a Josh Smith trade)…

      • Renato Afonso

        *would never

  • tebs

    let's make it simple. Rondo should improve on his jump shot to get banner 18.

    • Owen

      Agreed!!! I'm a big Rondo fan, but when he bricks those free throws, causing him to draw only 2 or 3 shooting fouls every game… it's just a bit frustrating

      Gotta give the kid credit for his toughness and mental conditioning though.

  • Dan crowley

    i think it would be stupid to do this i say keep the money and try and sign dwight howard im sorry howard peirce garnett allen rondo tell that to leborn james and watch the easiest champonship ever won

  • Jeff

    Smith would be a nice addition, but anything that takes place won't happen until latter in the season.

    If the Hawks are desperate to move him the C's may try and make a package around Green (who's a much cheaper option for a forward, and has similar athleticism) and some draft picks while including JO's expiring deal.

    I don't see how people are assuming that this would take the C's out of the running for Howard.

    Max deal this year was at $16 mil. If you package Bradley in whatever deal is going out for Smith, you're getting his money off the books.

    • Jeff

      …All that would be left is Rondo ($11 mil) and Pierce ($15 mil). Add in Smith ($13.3). That's $39.3. If we fill out the backend of the roster this year with guys on low cost deals (which we'll likely need to do anyways) then you're helping yourself because then your cap holds are on the low end.

      Say we sign our 1st round pick (Roughly $1 mil). Say we keep our 2nd round guy too…(roughly $500,000). Now we go get Chris Jonson (if POR doesn't keep him on his ungauranteed deal), and we sign Stephane Lasme off his D League contract. Also we grab DeShawn Simms. That's 4 guys on essentially rookie minimum deals of about $500,000…

      • Owen

        Yeah I know you're a hardcore fan.. but who the hell is Stephane Lasme and DeShawn Simms? hahahah… with this team, all we can compete for are Top Draft Picks….

        Repect to Rondo and Pierce, but this just can't get it done

        • Andy

          Shopping in atlanta basically a dream come true to me and that is why we are surely be doing on what was expected. how to clean braces

  • Jeff

    …With the likleyhood that a max contract offer will decrease, that should be enough to sign Howard, especially if we dealt away OUR 1st rounder to the future because that'd give us another $1 mil to offer Howard and put it up to $15.7 mil.

    The reality is, until the CBA is worked out, we won't know what can be done. If the cap goes up, and becomes hard, then there's a chance. If it stays the same then it could be different. Either way, Danny won't move until he knows the rules…

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  • "Smith hasn’t requested a trade, but has privately told league friends that the Boston Celtics, New Jersey Nets, Houston Rockets and Orlando Magic are his preferred destinations should the Hawks decide to move him."
    yeah I know about it a long time that is why it's no longer a surprise to me..

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