Trades (Part II): Should Hawks deal Josh for point guard?

Josh Smith had two offensive fouls and missed three three-point shots in the fourth quarter Wednesday.

Josh Smith had two offensive fouls and missed three three-point shots in fourth at Milwaukee.

(It’s trade talk Thursday. For Part I on the Thrashers, click here.)

There were few secrets about the Hawks going into this season.

We knew they overpaid for Joe Johnson but management felt his scoring couldn’t be replaced. We knew Al Horford made the All-Star team as a center but he would be so much better at power forward. We knew Josh Smith could be either the most dominant player on the floor or a complete pill, depending on the week, or the game, or the moment.

Here’s what we didn’t know for certain: Could Jeff Teague be an adequate replacement at point guard, since it had become apparent that Mike Bibby’s 32-year-old legs turned to linguini last season? The answer right now is no.

New Hawks coach Larry Drew has done an admirable job this season, steering the team to a 29-17 record despite several injuries and bringing a new philosophy to the offense. But unless the Hawks have a floor leader up top running the offense, they’re probably not going very deep in the postseason again.

This is when we come back to the issue of whether it’s time to change the look of this team. It’s not going to be at center because there just aren’t many good ones. So that means trading Josh Smith for a point guard.

Forget trading Horford, who’s the Hawks only universally embraced player. Forget trading Johnson, who makes too much money. That leaves Smith, who on some nights looks like he finally has arrived and on other nights looks like he doesn’t get it and will never get it — like Wednesday in Milwaukee.

Chauncey Billups would take charge for the Hawks.

Chauncey Billups would take charge for the Hawks.

The Hawks blew an 11-point lead by allowing the NBA’s worst offensive team (the Bucks) to score 34 points in the fourth quarter. Smith was the biggest problem. He had two offensive fouls and was one for six from the floor. He missed three three-point shots. Why did he even take three three-point shots?

It would be great if general manager Rick Sund could somehow swing a deal for a take charge point guard who simply would look at Smith waving his arms in the corner, laugh and then look in the other direction and give the ball to someone else. But the Hawks don’t have that leader right now. The two best candidates who could help this team likely require dealing Smith in a trade: Denver’s Chauncey Billups — not the Nuggets’ Carmelo Anthony, as rumored, because he’s a scorer and doesn’t fit what the Hawks need – or Phoenix’s Steve Nash.

Billups is 36 and Nash is 34. They’re old. But either would far exceed the three-headed monster of Bibby, Teague and Jamal Crawford (a terrific scorer but not a true point). Billups or Nash also would give the Hawks a couple of years to either develop Teague (if they still believe he can be developed) or draft somebody else to develop.

When asked about Teague, Drew admitted, “I had hoped he would be further along. So we’ve had to go with what’s been good to us. Mike is up there in age but he’s still been pretty productive.”

Drew said he’s resting Bibby enough that he’s not overly concerned about the player wearing down in the second half and in the postseason. When asked about defenses breaking down the Hawks, he said, “It does start [at point guard], but most of our breakdowns on top will be off the pick and roll. … From a breakdown standpoint, it’s certainly the head of the snake for us. We have to have ball containment. But that’s true with everybody on the perimeter.”

The NBA trade deadline is Feb. 24. Will Sund act? He never publicly discusses his plans (or sometimes even general thoughts) on the roster. But he is, by nature, deliberate. He doesn’t do things quickly. He doesn’t have a reputation for being real proactive. So it’s debatable whether a Smith deal would be seriously explored.

Also key: Hawks ownership always has been a big Smith fan, and believes he carries marketing value.

If Sund can make a deal for a point guard without trading Smith, great. The expiring contracts of Crawford ($10 million) and Maurice Evans ($2.5 million) have some trade value. But this team needs more than a Band-Aid at point guard. It might be time for a makeover.

By Jeff Schultz

EARLIER: Trade focus (Part I): Thrashers need help but will they get it?

Follow me on Twitter @JeffSchultzAJC; friend me at Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC

201 comments Add your comment

Paul

January 27th, 2011
3:02 pm

So who would play the 3/4?

JSS

January 27th, 2011
3:09 pm

Who is going to keep teams from going Phi Slamma Jamma on the Hawks if you trade Josh Smith? This team’s problem has always been perimeter defense mitigated by having a player who at least challenges people coming to the rim.

The Hawks limited trade value is on the outside… If you deal Smith or Horford, all bets or off in terms of the defense…

matt r

January 27th, 2011
3:09 pm

No discussion of Marvin; would he get us anything decent in return?

JSS

January 27th, 2011
3:10 pm

“all bets or off in terms of the defense”

JSS

January 27th, 2011
3:11 pm

Should be “all bets are off in terms of the defense”

Cp8

January 27th, 2011
3:11 pm

Jeff, Thanks for the multiple pieces today. Both are excellent.

Love Josh, but I’m at that point where I think the Hawks are better off moving him….

TS

January 27th, 2011
3:13 pm

Yet another reminder why we should never forgive the Hawks for drafting Marvin and Sheldon Williams over Chris Paul and Brandon Roy. I was upset about those moves even back when I assumed Marvin would become a star, which he definitely is not. What’s Mookie Blaylock doing these days?

MaxxHawk

January 27th, 2011
3:18 pm

Are you kidding me? Josh is one of the best all around players in the NBA, entering his prime, getting exponentially better in all areas of his game, and you want to trade him for Chauncey Billups? This article is asenine

Why is Josh Smith Shooting J's

January 27th, 2011
3:23 pm

Josj Smith blows

Cp8

January 27th, 2011
3:30 pm

I’d take Chauncey and Nene for Josh RIGHT NOW.

EW

January 27th, 2011
3:30 pm

MaxxHawk..exponentially better? If that were the case he wouldn’t ever shoot threes.

STRETCH

January 27th, 2011
3:36 pm

JSmith for Billups/Nene….ANY DAY!!!!

JoeMamaWas

January 27th, 2011
3:37 pm

Josh is excellent with increased upside and one of our best interior threats on defense. Getting rid of him only makes us worse. Any trade should improve us and not hurt us. Getting an older point guard with an expiration date only puts us at further risk of getting worse and back to potential rebuilding mode when the old guard’s skills go down or his contract expires. This is a no go from the get go.

Word

January 27th, 2011
3:38 pm

Love Josh….but he is taking us no where. Love the highlights too, but hate the complaining that I would give up the highlights and give up Josh for a leader no matter what position ( a point would be dope though).

jp

January 27th, 2011
3:43 pm

Josh and Bibby for Billups and Nene

jp

January 27th, 2011
3:44 pm

If only Josh would stop shooting long jumpers this team would be better off

Halsey

January 27th, 2011
3:45 pm

The Hawks don’t have a championship front line as it is. They sure won’t have one without Smith. How many teams win a championship without at least one 6′10 or taller All Star on the front line? Zero. 6′9 Al Horford at center is a problem as it is. It will be a bigger problem without a quality power forward. The Hawks need to find their 6′10 or bigger All Star.

jp

January 27th, 2011
3:48 pm

how about Josh, marvin, bibby for Nene, Billups and JR Smith

allan in texas

January 27th, 2011
3:49 pm

I believe that you would have to get a little more than Mr.Big Shot for Josh Smith. Do you agree Mr. Schultz?

jp

January 27th, 2011
3:50 pm

you can’t start Josh, Horford and another player on the same lineup. There’s not enough scoring in that lineup even with Joe and Bibby

bill

January 27th, 2011
3:56 pm

JS one of the best players in the NBA…puhleeze!!!!! Last night’s collaspe against the toothless Bucks (without THEIR 2 best players) says it all.

Josh was a winer in AAU ball, and he still is…he needs to go to a proven team and coach that will keep him in line. But ASG loves him, so don’t hold your breath for a trade. The usual post-season nothing on the way…

GT Alum

January 27th, 2011
4:00 pm

A few points:

1) For everyone criticizing Josh taking 3 point shots, the only players on the roster that have a higher shooting percentage behind the arc are Jordan Crawford and Bibby, and he only hoists about 2 a game now. His 3 point shooting isn’t killing us.

2) Even in last night’s game, he had 11 boards and 3 blocks. This year, he’s averaging almost 9 RPG, 3.4 assists, over a steal a game and almost 2 blocks per game, in addition to 16 points per game. He provides the Hawks so much more than scoring. Trading Josh for a PG would just be filling one hole by creating another. What’s the Hawks front line look like then? Marvin-Horford-Collins? Yeah, the back court would be stacked, but you think a team with that front line is going to make noise in the playoffs? Or do you move JJ to the 3 and let Bibby and Nash/Billups play together in the back court? Because you’ll also have a hard time finding enough minutes for Bibby, JJ, Crawford and Nash/Billups if you play all of them at the guard spots.

3) So you want to trade a player who’s under contract for 2 more years and who the Hawks have Bird rights for a player who might only play 2 more years? Doesn’t seem like a smart move for the future of the Hawks.

CJ

January 27th, 2011
4:01 pm

The Hawks are playing well this year. A road loss doesn’t mean we should start tossing around trade ideas.

Trading Jamal’s expiring contract would take away tons of points from this team. Who is going to step in and give you that production? He gives us 10 more wins a season.

Have you ever watched a Hawks game when Josh Smith has been out of the lineup? We get owned in the paint (more so than usual).

Bibby is doing just fine this year and in some cases has been a difference maker shooting. This Hawks team is more complete than any team we’ve seen in the Woody era and I’d like to see the season play out.

SOUTH GA DAWG FAN

January 27th, 2011
4:03 pm

the hawks were still in it last night with 20 something seconds left and josh is the one taking the 3 Hmmm.
Kevin Willis always thought he could shoot the three too.

Art Vandelay

January 27th, 2011
4:09 pm

The more frustrated Josh gets over the course of a game, the more he loses his focus, which causes him to take dumb shots and sulk, which causes him to get frustrated, which causes him to lose focus, which causes him to take dumb shots and sulk, which causes him to get frustrated, which causes him to lose focus, which causes him to take dumb shots and sulk, which causes…and on and on.

Eventually, we end up with a complete meltdown like we saw in the 4th quarter last night. He also gave up an uncontested layup because he had his back turned to the play. All that said, when his head is in the right place and he’s playing within himself, I don’t know of another player that can take over a game as quickly or as forcefully as he can.

No thanks to a trade for Chauncey Billups, and I’m against trading him for Nash unless we’re getting more than one player in return. A one-for-one that nets us a PG with 1 or 2 productive years left isn’t worth it.

atldeville

January 27th, 2011
4:09 pm

alas , as has been pointed out , when the hawks chose to pass over those point guards in the draft and build around the forward position they set themslves back at least a decade . i hate smith’s game, but the lack of inside help for horford negates moving him. the only solution IS a younger take charge point guard.

PMC

January 27th, 2011
4:11 pm

No, don’t trade Josh for ANOTHER aging point guard.

Unless it’s Chris Paul, don’t even freaking discuss it.

CJ

January 27th, 2011
4:11 pm

If you think you’ve seen a headcase, see what would happen if JR Smith came here.

Also, maybe we can get Childress back in a Nash deal.

PMC

January 27th, 2011
4:12 pm

They would be better off tanking it and trying to draft the right PG.

This is just what we get for the sins of the draft (Marvin….Shelden)

Jeff Schultz

January 27th, 2011
4:12 pm

JSS — No question Hawks would take a hit defensively inside.

Smitty

January 27th, 2011
4:13 pm

Jeff, sometimes I just can’t believe how little you know about sports. Thank GOD no one would ever hire you to run a team!

Jeff Schultz

January 27th, 2011
4:13 pm

Matt R — No discussion of Marvin Williams because you’re not going to get anything/much for him.

Jeff Schultz

January 27th, 2011
4:13 pm

CP8 — Thanks.

Jeff Schultz

January 27th, 2011
4:14 pm

TS — Memories of the Chris Paul thing will live on at least until the Hawks have a a strong point guard.

Jeff Schultz

January 27th, 2011
4:15 pm

MaxxHawk — Josh certainly is one of the best all-around players in the NBA — when he wants to be.

Jeff Schultz

January 27th, 2011
4:17 pm

JP — Yes. If only.

FunkyBobbyJ

January 27th, 2011
4:18 pm

Trading Josh for Chauncey is ridiculous, but Schulzy is right that we are desperate for a point. We should be pushing the ball up the floor like nobody’s business. Bibby is a decent shooter, but horrid on defense. I think that we are just going to have to go with what we got until next year. And, you gotta play Teague enough to know whether or not he is your guy. Marvin is virtually untradeable right now. Al is fine at the 5, there are almost no true centers in the league – he is a tough matchup for big centers when he has the ball – so chill on moving Al to the 4 spot. This is your team for 2011. Now let’s whip the NY Bricks on Friday night.

Jeff Schultz

January 27th, 2011
4:18 pm

Allan in Texas — I would think you can get a lot for Josh.

Jeff Schultz

January 27th, 2011
4:19 pm

CJ — I’m not basing this trade thought on last night’s loss, even though I did reference the game.

Jeff Schultz

January 27th, 2011
4:20 pm

Smitty — Good argument.

DawgBoi

January 27th, 2011
4:20 pm

steve brown

January 27th, 2011
4:21 pm

Nash is 37 this Feb and Billups is 34 later this year. I’m with CP8, Billups and Nene. What about Kaman from the Clippers? Much of Smiths number’s will be absorbed by others, particularly Horford, once the un-smooth is moved!

Fish Bisch

January 27th, 2011
4:22 pm

O'Brien

January 27th, 2011
4:23 pm

GT Alum,

Have you looked at Josh’s trend?

November: 51% from the field, 35% from 3
December: 46% from the field, 39% from 3
January: 41% from the field, 32% from 3

I don’t know if his knee is bothering him, or if it’s because he is spending more time at SF, but he is not the same shooter he was earlier in the season.

He needs to realize that, and adjust his shot selection accordingly.

DawgBoi

January 27th, 2011
4:23 pm

Josh Smith is our best rim defender…
We need Josh Smith..

El Bravo

January 27th, 2011
4:23 pm

The only way I trade Josh for Chauncey is if we get Nene back in return. We would have to include Jamal Crawford and expiring contracts in the trade but it would give us the roster we desperately need. Who knows, Denver may be just desperate enough to keep Carmelo to wing such trade..

jg

January 27th, 2011
4:23 pm

don’t like trading smoove either–but he has no b-ball i-q. down 94-90 and still in the game last night and he jacks a three out of a timeout. is that the play we drew up. horford drive hard to the basket and kick. i don’t mind that as long as the kick out is to bibby, jamal or joe…josh has to realize that in that and in most of these situations it should be in his best interest to get his butt crashing the boards for a put back and maybe a foul. stupid decision on his part–and he continues to make them.

i think you have to get a lot more for josh than just chauncey. it has to be nash and lopez..billups wouldn’t be an upgrade too much from bibby. bibby is the true coach on the floor and gets us into whatever it is our offense is. without him the game last night-the offense looked lost–teague looks to be a bust unfortunately–so basically we’re in between the rock and the hard place. i can live with mike bibby on offense–but neither him or teague can guard anyone–can we not play zone. we tried it last night for one possession and some how we found a way to leave their best shooter wide open for a corner three. it’s called identify the other teams shooters guys–you don’t have to double everyone–a lot of these teams are horrible perimeter shooting teams and the bucks are one of them. the 4th quarter was a joke!

i can’t figure out how this team can go from so good to so bad or vice versa from quarter to quarter–so jeckyl and hyde it makes me sick…

herm

January 27th, 2011
4:24 pm

C’mon people, if u do not see that Josh is probably the most valuable on the team, u are not good at knowing what it takes to win. Josh is our “d” and when he is not playing well, it shows. Yes he has some faults, but I always look at the positive, If not for him we would be terrible. Why all the Josh trade talks, we need to get rid of the dead weigh like Marvin, Bibby and all those dead beat centers we have. Management need to look at the getting Nash and why did they let Shaq go? Nash will upgrade the team because he knows who to pass it to. I saw a play in the Mil. game that puzzled me, JJ was driving the lane and appeared to have a open 10 ft’er, but he passed to Josh on the 3 pt line.Why? No leadership.

steve brown

January 27th, 2011
4:24 pm

According to the NBA trade machine Kaman for Smith works. Gives us a true center, frees up Horford, and gives Marvin a chance.

For Real

January 27th, 2011
4:25 pm

I would like to see the Hawks run this lineup for a while:
PG: Joe
SG: Marvin
SF: Josh
PF: Al
C: Collins

I would like to see the Hawks work on this trade between the Hawks, Lakers and Pacers:

Hawks Get:
Bynum
Blake
Granger

Lakers Get:
Josh
Zsa-Zsa

Pacers Get:
Bibby
Evens