Josh Smith is aware of the trade speculation swirling around him. He knows much of that speculation is fueled by the belief that he desperately wants out of Atlanta.
But Smith said today he’s not eager to be traded, though he’s bracing for the possibility.
“I’m not saying I want [a trade] to happen but if it does I will just have to deal with it,” he said.
Smith said the Hawks haven’t told him anything about a trade. But he noted that players aren’t usually privy to the team’s internal deliberations until a deal is going down.
“Right now I’m with the Hawks,” he said. “I think we have a special group. I just want to win.”
There’s no doubt Smith is frustrated about the flak he took from fans, media and Larry Drew over his shot selection. But it still doesn’t seem as if he’s pushing the Hawks to get him out of town.
Meanwhile, the latest rumors have the Magic acquiring Andre Miller and his non-guaranteed 2011-12 deal from Portland and then using that as part of a bigger deal. And since Dwight Howard apparently wants to play with Smith, that naturally leads to speculation that the Magic would use Miller as part of a package to acquire Smith.
UPDATE: Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel reports the Miller-to-Orlando speculation is “overblown.”
UPDATE II: Adrian Wojnarowski reports that Hawks are trying to trade Smith to Minnesota for the No. 2 pick so they can select Turkish center Enes Kanter.
Kanter was ruled ineligible to play for Kentucky last season after the NCAA determined he played professionally in Europe. According to NBADraft.net, Kanter has a history of knee problems.
Hawks assistant GM Dave Pendergraft was asked last week about Kanter’s lack of competition for a year and lack of high-level competition at all.
“He played so well at the Hoop Summit against the best young players,” Pendergraft. “And then [scouts] saw him practice at Kentucky later in the year. With that body and that kind of physical maturity, when you weigh that in and rank your players, the teams in that mix are comfortable with the decision that they are going to make.”
NBA co-director of scouting Ryan Blake on Kanter:
“He missed a year of game experience, development in game situations. He’s a very unique player. He could have made a lot of money playing pro [overseas], but he wanted to come over here, learn the language and improve his skills. He felt that was the best way to develop. He is gifted fundamentally with all the skills he possesses. Another thing is you can look at a a guy’s work ethic and heart and desire. Here is a guy that doesn’t back down. He wants to play against anybody and wants to prove what he can do. He is highly skilled.”
Trading Smith as a salary dump makes little sense (and is complicated by the $4 million trade kicker his new team would have to pay). Smith is still only 25. He’s productive, versatile, and valuable. The two years and $26 million left on his contract runs neck-and-neck with Al Horford’s new deal as the best bargain on the team.
If the Hawks somehow managed to unload Marvin Williams’ contract in the process of trading Smith, then the salary dump angle would make more sense. It still wouldn’t be palatable from a basketball standpoint unless they could also replace Smith’s production in the deal but clearly Williams has the kind of deal they would gladly send away.
If the Hawks also were to work a trade that included Smith and brought them back a superior player (or at least a comparable player at center or small forward) for even a one-season run then it would make some sense from a basketball standpoint. If the Hawks were able to get productive young players and draft picks in a deal, and then turn those assets into something down the line, then that might be a successful path, too.
Of course, looming in the background (or maybe the foreground) of all this speculation about salary shedding: The Hawks gave the richest contract in the league to a player that even their GM doesn’t believe is an MVP candidate.
Michael Cunningham, Hawks beat