The Atlanta Hawks freed up an enormous amount of salary cap when they traded All Star guard Joe Johnson to the Brooklyn Nets for several role players with expiring contracts. However, Johnson may not be the only star headed out of the ATL. Hawks hybrid forward Josh Smith is an expiring contract, but a high-impact player on both sides of the court. He is the kind of player who could propel a playoff team into a true contender. Some of the superstar 2013 free agents, including Chris Paul and Dwight Howard among others, will most likely not be moved because their respective teams have NBA title aspirations. This makes a solid, borderline All Star in Josh Smith even more valued. General Manager Danny Ferry will probably hold onto Smith until the trade deadline, so he can get a better assessment of how his team produces with Smith and big man Al Horford as the offensive focal points. The Hawks aren't necessarily rebuilding, nor are they contenders. Moving Josh Smith could reel them in young prospects, possibly clear up even more cap room for free agency or put them in position to get multiple first-round draft picks. What teams might pursue the southpaw? Here are numerous possible destinations and trade scenarios...
Some people overlook the fact that after the Rockets roughly overpaid Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik, they still have many young prospects in their rookie deals and cap room for the upcoming summer. General Manager Daryl Morey is known for doing what he can to get the big fish, and Smith is certainly one of them in the upcoming free agent class. Houston tried pulling out all the stops for Dwight Howard, and would, maybe questionably, pull out many of the same stops to acquire Josh Smith. While Houston can offer Smith a max contract next summer, if they acquired him during the season, they could offer him a heftier, longer contract at the end of next season. Here's a possible deal:
Hawks receive: Kevin Martin, Terrence Jones, JaJuan Johnson and a 2014 (Top 10 protected) first-round draft pick.
Rockets receive: Josh Smith and a 2016 (Lottery protected) first-round draft pick.
The Kings have several talented players, but no All Stars just yet. Sure, DeMarcus Cousins, Tyreke Evans and Thomas Robinson could get there one day, but they need more veterans in a young, inexperienced locker room. Josh Smith is the ultimate hybrid forward that would solve the Kings' problems at small forward and help mentor Robinson to become a force in the NBA. Evans has had a tumultuous tenure in Sacramento, but would be a starter in Atlanta and could maybe fulfill his All Star potential there. Here's a possible trade:
Hawks receive: Tyreke Evans, Jason Thompson, James Johnson and a 2013 (Top 10 protected) first-round draft pick.
Kings receive: Josh Smith and Jordan Williams.
Boston has always had a knack for thwarting Atlanta's postseason runs, and frankly, it'd be almost laughable that the Hawks would trade their young star to the Celtics. However, Boston does have interest in Smith, as well as pieces that could be available for a trade. If the Celtics swung a deal for Smith, it might be able to put them as co-favorites of the Eastern Conference with their arch nemesis, the Miami Heat. Here's a possible move:
Hawks receive: Courtney Lee, Brandon Bass, Chris Wilcox and Fab Melo.
Celtics receive: Josh Smith and a 2014 (Lottery protected) first-round draft pick.
Let me just clear this up first: This is not because I'm a Nets fan, rather, it's because I know Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov is willing to shell out as much money and resources possible to field a championship team. General Manager Billy King is also willing to part with resources; have you seen the original Dwight Howard deal? It included Brook Lopez, Kris Humphries, MarShon Brooks and FOUR first-round draft picks. Josh Smith is not a center, but he is lengthy and the defensive presence in the paint that this franchise hasn't had since Kenyon Martin donned a Nets jersey. King and the Hawks' GM Danny Ferry are also close friends, that's why the Joe Johnson trade happened so quickly, and that might benefit King in getting a deal done. This following move would give the Hawks a mix of young players, veterans and a draft pick, the Nets a legitimate inside defensive presence that could make them a contender, and the Mavericks even more cap space and assets for the highly anticipated summer of 2013. Here's my 3-team trade involving the Nets, Hawks and Mavericks:
Hawks receive: Kris Humphries, MarShon Brooks, Bojan Bogdanovic (Nets' international prospect), Vince Carter, Brandan Wright, cash considerations and the Nets' 2014 first-round draft pick.
Nets receive: Josh Smith and Dominique Jones.
Mavericks receive: Johan Petro, Jerry Stackhouse, Jordan Williams and the Hawks' 2015 (Lottery protected) first-round draft pick.
Wow! Another Atlantic Division team! But in all seriousness, the Sixers would benefit with a player like Josh Smith on its roster. His defense would only improve their already smothering defensive sets and his explosiveness on the offensive side of the ball would coincide well with Andrew Bynum. Philadelphia is in need of an established, natural power forward, so don't be surprised if they put their neck in the running for Smith. Here's a possible deal:
Hawks receive: Spencer Hawes, Nick Young, Arnett Moultrie and a 2014 second-round draft pick.
Sixers receive: Josh Smith
The Wizards are a borderline playoff team. They have some solid players, headed by John Wall and Nene Hilario. But, they are still a young team and have a ways to go before becoming a contender. One quicker step into becoming a contender would be for this team to bring in Josh Smith. Just imagine how deadly a fastbreak being pushed by Wall and Smith, with rookie Bradley Beal getting open for three-pointers in the corner, would be. The Wizards would become one of the better transition teams in the league. Here's a trade that I think would benefit both sides:
Hawks receive: Trevor Ariza, Emeka Okafor, Chris Singleton, Shelvin Mack and future draft picks.
Wizards receive: Josh Smith, Devin Harris and DeShawn Stevenson.
This might be a tough one for the Bulls to pull off. Carlos Boozer is not a good defender at all and not even defensive guru head coach Tom Thibodeau can make him look average. Josh Smith, however, fits the Bulls' mold perfectly. His outstanding defense is something Thibodeau covets in his players. Could the Bulls get a deal done? Here's my suggestion:
Hawks receive: Carlos Boozer, Nazr Mohammed, Marquis Teague, cash considerations and a 2013 first-round draft pick.
Bulls receive: Josh Smith and Johan Petro.
Many analysts have projected the Timberwolves to be right on the cusp of the playoffs. You know who would get them in? Josh Smith. In Smith, the Timberwolves would form their own "Big 3" of Smith, Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio. Smith would play at small forward for the Timberwolves and easily become their best defender. With Smith, Minnesota would have one of the best front lines in the NBA. He could propel them into the postseason for the first time in a long time. Here's a possible deal:
Hawks receive: Derrick Williams, Andrei Kirilenko, Malcolm Lee and future draft picks.
Timberwolves receive: Josh Smith and DeShawn Stevenson.
Some fans believe the Pistons can make the playoffs this year. Toward the end of last season, the Pistons started to make a run. Ultimately though, they are still at the bottom depths of the Eastern Conference and did not make enough moves to considerably put them in the playoff conversation. But, that can all change if they acquire Josh Smith from the Hawks. If they could manage to keep Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe in the process of trading for Josh Smith, this team would have a huge shot to claim one of the last playoff seeds in the East as well as to become one of the best young frontcourts in the NBA. Here's my suggested trade for the Pistons:
Hawks receive: Corey Maggette, Rodney Stuckey, Kyle Singler and two future first-round draft picks.
Pistons receive: Josh Smith, Anthony Morrow and Johan Petro.
Josh Smith has had a solid, productive career in Atlanta. It might be time for a change, though. There have been swirling rumors that teams are interested in him but also that he might choose to stay in Atlanta. After all, he is from Georgia and it might be in his best interest to stay with the Hawks' organization for the long haul. But, he will arguably be the most talented, touted player available at the trade deadline and Hawks GM Danny Ferry might get an offer that is simply too good to refuse. Will Josh Smith be traded before the season or at the deadline? Or will he not be traded at all and stay with the Hawks for the entirety of next season? Leave a comment with your opinion of the Josh Smith rumors or of which trade proposal you think is the best. If you think there's a better trade the Hawks can make, comment a proposal of your own!