According to Chris Broussard of ESPN, the Brooklyn Nets are “aggressively pursuing” a trade for Josh Smith of the Atlanta Hawks. Although the two teams are talking now, nothing is imminent and a trade probably will not be made until after the all-star break as the trade deadline approaches.
Even though Broussard is a well-respected reporter, his sources for this rumor may not be correct. In the rumor, Anthony Morrow is supposedly included in the trade. Because the Nets have already traded Morrow to Atlanta before this season, Morrow cannot return to Brooklyn before next season.
If a trade were to get done, one would assume that the Nets would have to trade Kris Humphries, Marshon Brooks, and some draft picks in order to acquire Smith. Although this isn’t a whole lot to give up for an all-star caliber player, this trade does not make sense for a number of reasons.
First of all, Smith will be an unrestricted free agent after this season, so any team that acquires him in a trade will expect to re-sign him. Reports have said that Smith is asking for a max-contract in the area of $90 million over 5 years. Although Smith has been a consistently good player over the last 7 or so years, teams would be pretty crazy to give him a max contract.
In my opinion, Smith is not a very intelligent player and makes lots of questionable decisions throughout games, especially at the ends. He takes way too many 3-pointers where he is shooting only 32% and he has been a 50% free throw shooter this year. Both those statistics are very concerning. Additionally, he is averaging over 3 turnovers per game this season, which is way too high for a power forward who should not be touching the ball that often.
Despite all these problems, Smith only needs one team to think he deserves a max contract, and Brooklyn could be that team. If Humphries is traded, he will open up $12 million for the Nets to spend next year which will cover most of Smith’s max contract if they give him one. Smith also fills a need that Brooklyn has at the power forward position. Nobody has stepped up this year to play that position at a high level consistently and there is no question that Smith will be an upgrade over Kris Humphries or Reggie Evans.
However, most people have not yet considered the biggest problem the Nets would have by acquiring Josh Smith: transforming into the old Atlanta Hawks. With Smith and Joe Johnson, the Nets will have two of the old Hawks’ key players. Brooklyn also has Brook Lopez, a borderline all-star center, but Atlanta had Al Horford, also a borderline all-star center. Coming into this season, one could say, “but the Nets have Deron Williams, so they must be better than the old Hawks”, but has Deron Williams even played much better than Jeff Teague this year?
Although those Hawks teams had some good players, they never came very close to making it out of the second round of the playoffs. And now, Johnson and Smith are both a year old and a year less athletic, so why should Brooklyn ever go farther than Atlanta did with a roster which included Josh Smith?
For all these reasons, it would be foolish for the Nets to make a trade for Josh Smith.