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Familiar Turf: Could Josh Smith Finally End Up In New England?

 


Fans of curious shot selection who’ve been despondent since Glen Davis relocated to Orlando got some good news Monday. New Atlanta Hawks GM Danny Ferry appears intent on taking apart the core of a Hawks roster that found an unyielding ceiling in the second round of the playoffs the last few seasons.

We’ve been down this road before, but Atlanta’s regime change may finally open the door for Josh Smith to land in Boston. It makes sense for a number of reasons. In fact, Smith (1 year, $13M remaining on his contract) is a near-perfect fit for what may prove a bridge year for the Celtics. Here’s why:

1) Smith addresses Boston’s rebounding problems. Smith had an impressive 24.7 DRR last season, just a shade behind Kevin Garnett (25.8). If the Celtics could get 55 minutes a game out of the two of them, that would go a long ways towards reestablishing Boston as a competent rebounding team, something they haven’t been for the last few years. It would also serve to reduce some of the rebounding pressure on Garnett, whose potential return must come with reduced minutes and burdens if he’s to maintain his high-levels of efficiency. Having a pogo-sticking Smith around to gobble up rebounds would save him wear and tear.

2) Acquiring Smith would make clear to KG (and the rest of the league) that the Celtics expect a deep playoff run next year and have no intention of going through a rebuild. Smith is a huge upgrade over any other Celtics big, including lovable-but-limiteds like Brandon Bass and Jeff Green. There was a lot of talk after game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals about how the Celtics were a “real” team and Miami was just a couple of stars. That proved a half-truth at best, but even if you buy into it, Miami’s victory should make clear that top-line talent wills out. Smith isn’t the most intellectual player in the league (again, I point you to Glen Davis) but his toolkit is utterly loaded.

3) Smith offers Doc Rivers all sorts of lineup possibilities. It’s easy to imagine an effective lineup with Smith (block) and KG (midrange) both on the floor. It’s equally easy to picture them spelling one another because Smith can play center in small lineups or power forward in big ones, just like Garnett. A lineup featuring Rondo, Smith, Garnett, Avery Bradley and any small forward (presumably Paul Pierce) could threaten defensive efficiency records for a five man unit.

Smith’s also a lethal open-court player, the kind Rondo has never had in Boston. It’s worth lingering on that idea. Neither Smith nor Rondo has been in a position where their skills have been optimized by the talent around them, save perhaps at Oak Hill Academy, where they played together. Smith, for all his gifts, hasn’t come near his ceiling. Part of that is due to the organizational culture in Atlanta, part of that is on him, and part of it is just the guys he’s taken the court with each year. The pieces can fit better than they have.

It’s not without warts, of course. Any lineup with Rondo and Smith runs the risk of facing endlessly sagging defenses, but if there’s sufficient shooting around them to spread the floor, and Smith does enough time in the paint, it seems workable, particularly as a single-year experiment.

4) He plays all sorts of defense. I’m not seduced by the blocks or the steals, although there are sexy numbers to be found. What really gets me worked up is Smith’s ability to defend the pick and roll, a major concern in the modern NBA and a particular one for a team that will have to go through Miami to get to banner #18. His size, speed and athleticism would also give Boston additional man-defense options against power-threes and big, athletic fours. LeBron James, of course, is both of those combined.

5) It’s relatively low risk. Smith has long seemed to harbor a desire to leave Atlanta and with only a single year left on his contract, the Celtics could try him before they buy him, assuming they can make a deal work (I’m not going to get into making up fake trades but you can safely assume the involvement of at least a couple of draft picks, a young player, and maybe a third team). If Smith proves a fit, the core of an athletic running team is in place. If he doesn’t, Danny Ainge can sign-and-trade him for someone that is or let him walk away and use the cap space left behind.

So, there it is. Our annual Josh Smith prospectus.

Be back here next June when we’ll do it all over again.

  • http://twitter.com/M_DeVelaine @M_DeVelaine

    I must say… Rondo and Smith on the court at the same time just sounds like a recipe for transition fun.

  • The Green Machine

    4sho! I really think we could end up getting him! + drafting White,sullinger,miller or pery jones 3, like those guys.

  • Lakershater13

    Okay lets talk really crazy here. I am a fan of Pierce being a Celtic for life. I also want to see banner 18. I say package Pierce and both first rounders in a 3 team trade.

    Portland: Gives up: Picks # 6, 11, and 40

    Receives: Pierce and #23 pick.

    Atlanta: Gives up Josh Smith and #23 pick.

    Receives: Picks: #11, 21, 22, and 40.

    Boston: Gives up Pierce and picks #21 and 22.

    Receives: Josh Smith and #6 pick.

    Boston Starting Lineup: Rondo, Bradley, Green, Smith, KG.= scary defense.
    Bench. PG sign Mo Williams(if cheap enough. instant offense) SG Pietrus SF Daniels PF Bass C Draft Drummond.

    If KG can make Drummond work his ceiling is a Dwight Howard type player. When KG is on the bench you would have a freakishly athletic lineup. Let guys like Green and Smith run with Rondo and you have great fast break basketball. Get guys like a Mo Williams trailing for 3s would be great too.

    I would love to see the Celtics rebuild and still compete. Trading to get the 6th pick and Josh Smith could certainly make things work. The last thing the Celtics want to do is bring in 3 rookies to add with Moore and JJ. If KG decides he wants to come back he will want to see that there is a championship caliber team to come back to.

    This trade may be a pipe dream. Maybe it works with another team getting involved. Such as the Cs 2 picks going to NOLA for the number 10. That gives Atlanta the 10th and 11th picks for Smith. If Ferry wants to shake things up Ainge better be listening. Also Portland would be wise to bring in a proven player to put next to Aldridge and Mathews. Pierce would give Portland the opportunity to compete. They can probably get Melo at 23 which would give them a decent front court of Aldridge, Melo, and Pierce.

    • Anthony

      While I understand the thought process, wouldn't Portland prefer Smith over Pierce if they're going to give up a #6 and 11?

      Not really crazy amount Drummond's potentials nor Mo's offensive capabilities.

      Lastly, I doubt KG would come back if both Pierce and Ray won't be back with the team.

    • CTVT802

      Who would the Celtics go to in a crunch time situation. Neither Rondo nor Bradley have a solid jumper like Pierce. Green isn't on that level and KG/Smith aren't able to isolate

  • The Green Machine

    I think we can get Josh with out doing that 2 PP. If we can sign Bass and Green and throw in next yr 1st pick I think that'll be good enough (imho) since hes gonna be a FA nxt yr.

  • Anthony

    I've been lobbying to get J-Smooth for the past 2 seasons for all the reasons mentioned above. The only negative is his shot selection which for all intents and purposes should be fine since Rondo will be the one handling and distributing the ball. That's a big difference than getting passes from Hinrich, Teague, or Joe Johnson. He's also a decent shooter despite what people think. As Van Gundy mentioned in the playoffs, he just need to learn to take 1 step in from the 3pt line where he consistently knocks down the jumper. I can't think of anyone else that stuffs the stat sheet the way he does with pts, reb, assist, blocks, steals. He reminds me of a more athletic version of Antoine Walker that plays much better defense. That's not a bad thing right?

    Lou Williams is my favorite guard option that I would like the Celts to pursue if price is right.
    Draft-wise I think Celts should move up to take Perry Jones III. Saw some of the ESPN combine highlights and he reminds me of a mix of Anthony Randolph and Rudy Gay.

    • CG12

      Why on earth would you want an Anthony Randolph? The Cs don't need and don't want talented headcases. The culture that has been so successful in recent years depends on mature, team-oriented players. It is tempting to think that the culture could help turn around guys like Randolph or Jones, but history has shown that guys like this just don't ever get it. There are always exceptions, but I'd say go with a real ball player, not an athlete who happens to play ball.

      • Anthony

        I wasn't saying the Celts should get Randolph. I just meant PJ3's game seem like a mix between Randolph and Rudy's games. Basketball-wise, I think Randolph is better than JJJ.

        • CTVT802

          PJ3 might drop to the Celtics without needing to trade up. His stock has plummeted the whole combines and workouts

  • The Green Machine

    Absolutely correct! I Agree 100%

  • Morpheus

    This would be perfect leeway heading into 2013 before getting DeeWight Howard.

    I would piss myself if Danny pulled off a trade to land Josh Smith while keeping Pierce,KG,Bradley and Rondo. That would be something special.

  • felix

    i don't know why jsmith keeps getting everyone excited. regardless of his skills and his talent (and a good outside shot), everyone was able to make the comparison between him and garnett in the playoffs. in short, he is immature and will never carry a team on his back. or make a team truly better. not even for a single season (lockerroom chemistry).

    • felix

      sorry for my english – lockerroom probably doesnt make that much sense for a pro sports team:)

      • The Green Machine

        nah its all goo bro, Im Puertorican. The thing with Josh is that the ceiling for him is real high, you put this kid in beantown and he'll follow the leader as simple as that. Look at the stats he is a monster.

        • felix

          i know!! he is so super gifted…and i am sure he's a nice person…but i think it was evident in these games in the first round that he will never a gameshifter. and honestly, i think he wouldn't listen to Garnett.
          thanks for the language support :)

          • The Green Machine

            no problem. Lets see what happens with or C's but I think the future is looking really bright.

  • skeeds

    This makes all kinds of sense. It goes without saying that bringing in Josh Smith makes Bass redundant. Which is fine with me, because Bass's "compatibility" with Rondo has been exaggerated. Pick n pop players aren't the best fit for Rondo.

    I'm not at all worried about his "intelligence". A team with a mastermind playmaker and an even smarter coach can afford a knucklehead or two. Not to mention that any guy who can play and defend the pick and roll that good, can't be all that stupid. As for his shot selection, I bet he won't be finding himself open for 3's all that often in Doc's tight sets. Atlanta's offense was more often than not a mess. Doc doesn't work that way.

  • The Green Machine

    Bring him already!!! #JoshSmith

  • GreenM&M

    This would absolutely ROCK!

    But how the heck would we get him? What could we give Atlanta? If they are intent on moving him I'm sure they could get a better deal somewhere else. They could easily swap him for a top 5 pick right now.

    • Marko

      I agree, If I am Atlanta I'd want a top 5 or 6 pick

  • CG12

    Very mixed feelings on Josh Smith. The good things he does are exactly what the C's need. But he brings a lot of negatives to the table, as well. He has shown glimpses that he might consider changing his game to give up the outside jumper he loves so much, but in the end he couldn't resist the sweet siren song and once again was chucking up long J's any time he could. The C's let him do it in the playoffs, and he will hit a few, and then go cold for long stretches. It just kills his team when does that. It is hard to overstate how negative it is when he does that. Numerous times this year, Donny Marshall pretty much predicted that Fool's Gold Smith would knock down a couple, decide he should then keep shooting it, and pretty much shoot his team out of the game later. If there was some level of confidence that the team chemistry could get him to get on board, then I'd be very intrigued. Rondo to JSmoove on the break is a nearly orgasmic thought.

    • zach

      agreed he is a gamble and only worth it if the price is right. But 4/5 size + skill is SO hard to come by in the NBA

    • Anthony

      While I agree JSmoove does have bad shot selection, you also have to look at ATL's offensive sets. Joe Johnson and Josh can basically go ISO on every other play. Celts play more tradition half court sets where they actually run plays. Having Rondo as your playmaker will make a huge difference.

      Remember game 6 where he shot ATL back into the game with consecutive 18 footers but then also cost ATL the game by missing a 20 footer with tons of time left on the shot clock. If he actually gets traded to Boston, I would prefer to see the 2 makes rather than the 1 miss.

      And apparently Josh is very close with Dwight Howard, so it can't hurt our chances of luring him to Boston next season.

  • zach

    Would love to have him, but would you give up Bradley to get him? To me that is a super tough decision given Bradley age, contract, and fascinating potential. Then again it is much easier to get good 6'2" players than 6'10" guys. Not sure it Atl does this for JG OR BB plus picks, but if they do sign me up!

  • Mike

    what are you giving up to the Hawks to get Smith? Bobcats are out there dangling the #2 pick in the draft. Lakers are going to dump a center and I see a team like the Spurs might look to get him as a potential "Durant Stopper". Ferry has ties to the Spurs and they could package multiple young talented pieces for him. I share your admiration for Smith's game though. He can be the piece that gets one of the older contenders over the hump. Would you be willing to take Joe Johnson though – please?

    • GreenM&M

      Good point. If Atlanta is blowing it up the #1 priority is getting rid of Johnson and his fat contract. They'll look for deals where they can package the two.

    • Anthony

      Agreed but I'm sure JSmoove have a list of teams that he would prefer to be traded to. And I think because of his friendship with Rondo, Boston was on that list.

      If you're ATL, would you rather have JGreen and picks or Gasol? Remember Gasol makes more than Smith so ATL would have to give up additional players. ATL also seem pretty high on Jeff Teague, so here's to hoping they don't want AB as part of any trade packages.

      What can Spurs offer for Smith? They don't have anybody, outside of Parker/ Ginobili, that's a valuable asset. And they have 1 pick this year which is the 59th pick overall.

      Celts have the money to trade even if ATL wants to get rid of Joe Johnson. It would mean trading Pierce though, which I'm definitely opposed to.

      • Mike

        I think the Hawks, if smart, would not trade Smith to an East team, well except maybe the Bobcats. The Spurs could offer multiple role players like Tiago Splitter, Matt Bonner, Danny Green, etc. This would be an upgrade over some of the role players for Atlanta, but Spurs usually don't rock the boat like that and swing for the fences. I can't see Spurs getting KG to leave Boston either. My hope is Danny Ferry can pull a rabbit out of his hat by keeping Josh Smith and finding a home for Joe Johnson and his much hated max contract. As far as Gasol, no way I want that guy. Jeff Green is a medical issue. I wouldn't want any picks > 5 for a talent like J Smith.

  • janos

    hi Haynes, is Janos
    Today see Larry Bird leave Pacer think come back celtics nba? always room legend team

    like see summery draft winning team also, losing team other team to; most summery celtics

    ok thank you

  • High Rollers

    I've accepted the fact that the C's can't afford to bring in / bring back anybody and everybody. That said, and although I really want Ray to stay, if he chooses to go elsewhere then it'd probably be a good idea to go after Smitty. I know they don't play the same position; they would just be competing for $ I'm guessing. Anyway, I can easily picture Smith maturing well with age and grizzling nicely alongside Ticket. Not to mention the common refrain in this thread already: Rondo to Smoove! Rondo to Smoove! Rondo to Smoove!

  • High Rollers

    This is very interesting. If the Royce White rumored "promise" is really from Atlanta with the 23rd pick, I wonder if Boston can use that situation to make a trade for Smith.

  • The Green Machine

    Maybe is just me, but I dont think it would be very smart for the C's to trade all of our picks this year plus another one next. imho I thinks green/bass next yr 1st pick does it.

  • Kevin

    How the hell do the Celtics get him without giving up Rondo or Pierce? Stupid column

  • DcJ

    This so effing dumb….. No way Boston has the trade assets to get josh smith … You dumb fucks

    • felix

      maybe you are right….but even so, you could say it in a nice way. your insult insults only you.

  • Vettledi

    What a great column, giving hope and the possibility to dream for a bunch of dummies. There isn''t even ONE moment when it is said who could be going the opposite direction. You know what? You may be right! Ferry just took the job and is about to give Josh Smith up for nothing. That is correct sir.

  • Molaz

    @Vettledi Basically,the Celtics have nothing and no one the Hawks want. A pick? They wish Danny was that stupid. To squash your hopes even further, Danny and the owners haven't even talked about he current roster. So anything written by this blogger is fictional. And a 23rd pick for Josh Smith? Right! Josh himself was a 16th pick and plays like a lottery pick. Stop the wet dreams! It's killing Garnetts sheets!

  • Mike

    Boston definately needs josh Smith to make boston a contender. let Ray Allen go, trade Bass and draft picks for Smith. Try him out for one year and don't lose much while 1 year try out.

  • Mike

    Boston sucks..Lakers!

  • http://www.drivecricket.com test cricket blog

    now let's just focus and cheer them so that they will have some energies.

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