I love trade rumors. They give you the opportunity to play arm chair general manager while evaluating talent that you think would make your team better. Whenever my team is struggling the first thing I do to comfort myself is run over to the espn trade machine (http://espn.go.com/nba/tradeMachine) and dream up trades that fix what ails the Celtics. As the season goes along teams develop tendencies, styles and the pretenders are separated from contenders. The more games played, the more information is given, as to what teams are. As we figure out what teams are, trade rumors build based on team needs. Since I love trades I wanted to go over some players that could be potential targets to move. I’m going to post these as a series with each covering a specific player.
Smith has been in rumors ever since a New York Daily Article said the following:
“Josh Smith has told the Hawks that he isn’t going to sign an extension during the season. He’d rather wait to become a free agent, when he can get a five-year deal. An extension would limit him to a three-year deal, according to the new CBA rules. New GM Danny Ferry has upwards of 10 players who could be free agents at season’s end
This got shortened to Josh Smith won’t sign an extension with Hawks. In actuality J Smoove would be taking less money to sign an extension which was never really an option. Regardless of the reason the Hawks don’t want to let him get to free agency with the chance that they will lose him for nothing. Two of Josh Smith’s best friends are Rajon Rondo (played at Oak Hill Academy together) and Dwight Howard (both from Atlanta). By coincidence the Celtics and Lakers have been rumored as possible trade destination for Smith.
The Lakers rumor centered around Pau Gasol for Josh Smith and either Kyle Korver or smaller pieces. http://espn.go.com/nba/dailydime/_/page/dime-121116-18/weekend-dime-steve-nash-mike-dantoni-get-second-chance. This trade doesn’t make sense because it doesn’t fit the Hawks current plan. This offseason the Hawks traded away Josh Smith and Marvin Williams with the intent of having cap flexibility. They didn’t want to consistently have to pay luxury tax with a team that has a ceiling of the 2nd round. In this case the Hawks would be getting a player that would make them better but not put them over the top. With Gasol’s large contract the Hawks would be back to an expensive very good team, but one that would never be truly great.
A deal involving the Lakers and the Hawks does make sense because Pau for Smith is a good trade value wise. This only means that a third team with good young players would have to want to take on Pau. Some possibilities are Houston (previously expressed interest in Pau), Minnesota, Portland.
Josh Smith has went out of his way to praise Boston fans. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FPrYKGegnqY. As I said before Rajon Rondo is one of his best friends. Over the summer when Rondo flew all the Celtics out to to California to play flag football Josh Smith happened to be there. Regardless of how you want to read into that it’s the type of story that creates rumors.
The Celtics for the first time in a while are sporting some good young players that have value around the league. Avery Bradley showed that he is at the very least an elite on ball defender last year. Jared Sullinger has been good enough that Doc Rivers has introduced him to his rotation almost immediately (something that he pretty much never does). Brandon Bass has shown himself to be a good big at a reasonable price. Courtney Lee is a good player signed at a reasonable contract as well. Could the Celtics put together a package of some of those players and picks together to get in the Smith sweepstakes? With the Celtics being over the Cap next year the only way Smith could come to Boston would be in a trade.
A third team that logically could be tied to Josh Smith is the Houston Rockets. Daryl Morey since he was hired has been gathering assets in an effort to someday package them for a star player. Late in the offseason Morey executed his play in dealing for James Harden. Just because Morey got his star player doesn’t mean that he won’t try to package his remaining assets to acquire Smith. Houston is stocked at the 3/4 position and could offer players like Patrick Patterson, Markieff Morris or Terrence Jones to replace Smith for Houston. They also have Donatas Motiejunas and Cole Aldrich as good young prospects that they could offer as well as draft picks.
Josh Smith will probably be traded as has become the norm for a player that will not sign an extension with their current team. His talents of athleticism defense and rebounding could be used by any team. His value is higher for teams that would be more likely to retain his services after the year. Due to this the most likely destinations are Boston, the Lakers and Houston.