All-Trade Friday: Should the Hawks deal Josh Smith?

First, a disclaimer: The Hawks aren’t apt to trade anybody this summer unless it’s Marvin Williams (or Josh Childress) as part of a restricted-free-agent sign-and-trade. But the matter of dealing either Joe Johnson or Josh Smith keeps arising, and Ian Thomsen of addressed it in his Mailbag last week.

Thomsen argues that, of the two, Smith should be the one to go. First, because Johnson will be a free agent next summer and therefore wouldn’t elicit full value. Then this: “Smith is an upside talent who may yet mature to become an All-Star. He isn’t there yet, while Johnson is the bird in the hand. It wouldn’t make sense to trade a 27-year-old All-Star at his peak because such reliable talent is extremely hard to find.”

A word about Mr. Thomsen: He’s a really good guy and a really fine writer, and he’s among the very few in our industry who are taller than I am. (I believe Ian is 6-foot-6.) But I’ll disagree with him on this one. I wouldn’t trade either, but I’d trade J-J-J-Joe before I’d think of dealing J-Smoove.

Should the Hawks trade Josh Smith?

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I say again: In two years Smith is going to be the best player on this team (and that’s if Johnson is still here). He’s one of the great talents in the sport, and he’s becoming one of the better players. And he’s 23. We forget that sometimes. We forget that Josh, who bypassed college, is just six months older than Al Horford.

I’m like everyone else. I wish Josh wouldn’t shoot so many jumpers. (At least until he spends a summer learning to shoot jumpers, the way Dominique Wilkins once devoted an offseason to the mastery of the bank shot.) I wish he got along better with Mike Woodson. I wish his rebounding average hadn’t declined by one per game last season. I wish a lot of things.

But my biggest wish for the Hawks is that they use this summer to add talent. Subtracting Josh Smith would be the worst of all moves. He’s a keeper, not a castaway.

Other installments: Should the Braves trade Jeff Francoeur? And also: Should the Thrashers trade Ilya Kovalchuk?

Further reading: Esteemed colleague Sekou Smith offers his incisive take on the Josh Smith situation.

191 comments Add your comment


June 12th, 2009
5:53 pm

Agreed. You know what you’ve got with Joe. Knowing that, I could live with it if we let him go. It would be tough to replace him, but I could live with it. You still don’t know quite what you have with Josh. I’ve seen too many flashes of greatness to live with it if we were to let him go. I think he’s got tons of untapped potential. If we keep Joe, we get better by who we add to the squad. He’s as good as he’s going to get (which, I must say, is far above average). We keep Josh & there’s the potential for the squad to improve merely because of his growth as a player.

Mark Bradley

June 12th, 2009
5:57 pm

A word of apology: Somehow in the machinations of today — this blog post was set to go up at 10:38 a.m., but when word of Vick’s release broke we decided to push this back — the “allow comments” box in WordPress got unticked. It has been re-ticked, but not before I got royally ticked myself. I love comments. I would rather say hello to John Smoltz than to have one of my blogs go without allowing comments.

Too much information, I know. I’m sorry for that as well. But the floor is open, and I implore you to speak your mind. Thanks for your forbearance.


June 12th, 2009
6:05 pm

I disagree 100%. First the Hawks shouldn’t trade either, but if it had to come down to that, Josh will have to go. If you actually watch the Hawks, you’ll know Josh has a way to go to become an all-star. If we keep waitin on him to become that all-star, teams would already be better than us. The time is now for the hawks to get that best team style. Don’t forget that every team is always trying to get better. Plus, Joe is the face of the organization!!


June 12th, 2009
6:06 pm

Great article Mr. Bradley, plus we all know it takes more than one good player to make a team a contender for the championship. We don’t have a super star and I doubt if we can get one in free agency or in the draft since our team is making the play-offs a yearly event now. So, it will take a team of very god players like Joe, J-Smoove, and others to make us a contender. I would love to keep Marvin but who knows since he will be a free agent this season and i would be overjoyed if J-Chill returned. He was out Turkoglo. If Al spends some time with Smoove at The Dreams big man camp in Houston next summer, boy watch out.


June 12th, 2009
6:13 pm

We forget the Josh was THE best player his senior year in High School. He has the upside, I’m afraid that coach woodson will NEVER be able to polish this young man into ONE of the ELITE players in the league!


June 12th, 2009
6:14 pm

Another thing Mr. Bradley, who on our team is in charge of developing our big men. I was only able to catch game 3 and 4 at the highlight factory this year, but in watching J-Smoove, it is evident that Olajuwon has done a great job in developing Smoove low post game. And, when you watch Dwight in Orlando you definitely see Ewing’s influence on his offensive game, the little running jump hook in the lane among other moves. The Hawks need someone full time just like it was a great move to hire Mark price as shooting coach. And speaking of that, You have Smoove work with Price for some extended time this summer and you know you will see improvement on that jump shot


June 12th, 2009
6:17 pm

I think Josh Smith is the guy to keep. He’s 23/24 years, and has a much better chance at being one of the league’s top 5 talent! The Hawks would be stupid to get rid of a 23 year old that can score, rebound, play defense, etc. But, I don’t think J-Smoove can be that great player under Mike Woodson. He has to learn offense to be successful, not defense.

Mark Bradley

June 12th, 2009
6:21 pm

I think Marvin will stay only if he signs a one-year qualifying offer that would allow him to be an unrestricted free agent in 2010. But Josh is here for four more years. He’s the future.


June 12th, 2009
6:23 pm

Josh Smith is a turnover machine. I cringe when I see him taking off downcourt on a break, knowing he’ll turn the ball over. This guy just cannot learn to give the ball to the point guard to bring it upcourt and cannot learn to not take the long jump/set shot which he has about a 25% shooting percentage on. He just lacks in the upstairs department, he’s been a pro long enough to not hide behind that “young and still developing” thing.


June 12th, 2009
6:24 pm

I just googled the 2004 McDonald’s All AMerican team, WOW, very good group of young players. I think may be one of the best group of high school classes before it is all said and done.


June 12th, 2009
6:38 pm

He has plateaued. B-ball players don’t improve exponentially. You can do a lot better than Josh Smith for $70MM.


June 12th, 2009
6:38 pm

Just look at all the attention Josh Smith gets when he “go’s up high for a jam”! And, people say that isn’t the future? The Hawks need to get a veteran player that would actually groom Josh. Sort of what Denver did when they got Chauncey Billups to help groom Carmelo Anthony. I feel we can be this year’s Denver Nuggets!

Baron Davis

June 12th, 2009
6:48 pm


That leader would be me!


June 12th, 2009
6:51 pm

We need a coach who can relate to this young team and still drive into their heads the concepts of HARD WORK. Do not trade either player ADD and dev. The bench must be a factor….and STOP having favorites……

Pat Riley

June 12th, 2009
7:00 pm


I am that coach!

[...] Mark Bradley | – [...]


June 12th, 2009
7:05 pm


June 12th, 2009
7:12 pm

Trade none, keep both. Why would you trade either one of your two best players? Having said that, if it comes down to a choice between either Joe or Josh, as much as I love Joe Johnson, I would trade him before I trade Josh.

Joe got the Hawks out of the quagmire of a 13 win season, choosing to sign with a losing team. He’s brought Hawks to some level of respectability in the league, and for that we would be eternally grateful for him. But he had a sub-par season this year and he was downright awful in the playoffs. Chalk that down to fatigue, double teaming, bad Hawks offensive schemes, but an all star should be able to get over all that. Joe’s game seemed to decline a step this season. And he held onto the ball too long on the double team.

Josh Smith on the other hand, we know the worst we can expect from him. Turnovers, dumb decisions leading to more turnovers, bad free throw shooting, jacking up stupid ineffective jumpers, but we still don’t know the best we can get from Josh at 23. Said it before. If Josh grows up some, if he is able to make a consistent mid range shot, shoots at least 75% from the line, keeps improving on his post moves (we know the dunks, blocks and steals would alway be there) up on his rebounding %, he would be an all star in this league, and a possible building block for any team. Josh was the best Hawk during the playoffs. Despite all his theatrics, He was the most consistent Hawk in the post season.

Mr. Bradley, I thought we discussed this topic on your earlier blog. And unless we are getting an all star in return, I don’t see the Hawks trading either Joe or Josh. You have a core. Joe, Josh, Horford, you don’t trade those guys. You sign up players to make their job easier.


June 12th, 2009
7:25 pm

GREAT job Mr. Bradley. I saw JJJ Joe can be GGG Gone before Smoove is gone.

Joe is a great player, but Smoove has potential to be ridiculous. Can he be, though, is the question.


June 12th, 2009
7:27 pm

I would definently not trade Josh over Joe. If we really had to get rid of either because of cap space, then take Joe and trade him to Sacramento for Spence Hayes and Garcia. That is not much but you are getting a big and a shooter who can create his own shot. Sacramento is getting an All-Star.
After that is accomplished, try to take Claxton and Marvin and hope that Huston is ready to get rid of T-Mac. (wishful thinking, but maybe possible)
Use the draft pick for a pure shooter and take Andersson back from Europe. We still have the rights for hiim. Maybe even resign Childress.
Now you have an amazing line up:

PG Bibby
SG T-Mac
SF Smith
PF Horford
C Hayes

PG Law/Murry
SG Garcia
SF Evans/Childress
PF Jones
C Zaza

If someone doesn’t think we can get T-Mac for just Marvin and Claxton then throw in Childress in the mix and now you are definently able to achieve something.

We are a title contender at that point.


June 12th, 2009
7:29 pm

You still have the pick left and Andersson from Europe, who is doing pretty well and is considered one of the top PF over there. He is not a child anymore at 28, what are we waiting for??? He could replace Horford when he needs to rest and provide at least 15 pts., 7 rebounds.

Mark Bradley

June 12th, 2009
8:52 pm

If Zaza leaves — and I think he will — I’m guessing David Andersen becomes a key consideration.


June 12th, 2009
9:15 pm

Mark, I am a JJ fan, and a Josh Smith fan. Before we trade either of them, I would like to see what another coach could do. A coach who has an offensive scheme (instead of just iso-JJ), a coach who does not play JJ 40 mpg, a coach who knows to let the Hawks play inside out (like you said, JJ had as many shots as Al and Josh combined), a coach who does not play a switching defense so that our bigs are usually out of position. Can we trade Woody?

Josh is cheaper and younger. But the problem with Josh is you dont know if he will ever mature, if he will ever develop a jump shot, if he will ever learn to play within himself, if he will ever get along with Woody. Whereas JJ is already a top 5 SG, a 3 time All-Star, invited to try out for Olympic team.

I’m glad I’m not Rick Sund, because I dont know. I would trade Josh because I think it is easier to replace him than it is to replace JJ.

David Andersen is a PF. Even if we dont sign Zaza and we sign Andersen, we still need a center (like Gortat from Cleveland, J. Collins etc.)

I guess


June 12th, 2009
9:25 pm


I’ve coached basketball for 32 years. I have seen a lot of talent come and go. Josh Smith has a lot of God given talent that needs a lot of development. We have a coaching staff that does not develop talent, but takes the skill set that each player has and puts it into a team concept. Josh Smith will never develop in Atlanta. He can’t even shoot a jump shot! Joe Johnson is a player with skills. He knows how to win and has the offensive and defensive skills to help the Hawks succeed.

I would trade Josh Smith and Speedy for Bosh. The contracts will work. Toronto will agree to that trade because they know they are going to loose Bosh after next year. They can get Josh for the next 4 years and get Speedy’s expiring contract. The Hawks should do this trade because it makes them serious contenders right away. Plus, they have JJ and Bosh’s expiring contracts for next summer. That’s over 30M. That gives the Hawks a real chance to get either or both back or become real players in the FA sweepstakes of next summer. If the Hawks can make a serious run for the Finals with Joe and Bosh, they will probably be real interested in resigning with the Hawks!


June 12th, 2009
9:45 pm

NBA is definitely a star driven league and you can bring in vets and win quick. I would trade him in a heartbeat for Amare Stoudemire or Chris Bosh if I could work out an extension. A better deal would be to get Camby from the Clippers, he was acquired for a 2nd round pick last year so I am sure he could be had cheap especially since the Clips will get Griffin. You get Camby in the middle, move Horford to the PF spot Smith to the SF spot, the move Marvin for a pg like Raymond Felton or maybe Mike Conley, let Bibby go as a FA and bring back J Chills and Zaza.

Mark Bradley

June 12th, 2009
9:48 pm

Bosh for Josh — a rhyme! — would be interesting. But Josh for Stoudemire would scare me. I worry about his knees.

I don’t see Camby as an answer, by the way.


June 12th, 2009
10:27 pm

You don’t trade any one of them.You sign Joe to an extension.If you trade anyone it’s Chill,Al,or Marvin.They’re young an have trade potential.You build around Joe and Smoove.It’s time for Spirit group to spend money.This off-season is make or break.You cant get equal value for joe or smith


June 12th, 2009
11:49 pm

I dont see Smoove ever getting double and triple teamed like other teams do to Joe. I dont see it happening now or 2 years from now if they are both here. Unless Joe has a bad injury he will be a force for at least 4 or 5 more seasons.


June 12th, 2009
11:53 pm

Mark I know this is off topic but do you think the Hawks would be better served trading pick 19 and maybe Speedy’s deal for a veteran player considering #1. They are looking to go farther in the playoffs as oppsed to rebuilding ( unless they lose everybody in a free agency disaster) and #2. Rick Sund has a horrible draft record.


June 12th, 2009
11:55 pm

For once I’m in complete agreement with MB. In two years Josh Smith will be the best player on the team and one of the top players in the NBA. He’s ready to take the next step up.

Sam Wetherson

June 13th, 2009
12:06 am

Man if any of you think that Josh SMith is the future of this team you are badly mistaken. He has hit his peak. You don’t pay a guy 60 million dollars and “hopes” that he get better. He is not young anymore. Josh has been a starter in the NBA for 5 years. He still is a turn over machine, he still does stupid things, he still has an attitude, he can’t play defense worth a damn. Don’t let the declining blocks fool you one bit. He CANNOT play one on one defense. He takes bad shots. HE s good for a highlight or two but that is it. He is what he is.


June 13th, 2009
12:09 am

Simply put you don’t trade either player!!!

Joe and Josh are the corner stones of the team. We need to improve out bench play. Getting back Josh Childress would make this team better quickly and would be the best off season move we could make. Addding Josh to along with re-signing Marvin, Flip, and Zaza and we are a much better team.

The great thing about the Hawks are we still a young team and Al, Marvin, Zaza, and Josh are only get better as they get older.


June 13th, 2009
12:32 am

Andersson is a good, maybe even great PF but definently not a C. If anybody has paid any attention to some upcoming goods, McGhee from Washington, Hawes from Sacramento, Gasol from Memphis, these are future Centers in the NBA.
We should get a young uknown center who can grow and be cheat at this point.
If we get rid of JJ, then send him to Chicago for Ben Gordon and maybe even include Marvin in there for Tyrus Thomas.

We do need to let go off Bibby, he is not very consistent and terrible on defense. Give Acie a chance for a few months, if he is not ready you can always start Murry.

You can’t get Bosh for anything we have. Established big men are not going to come here without another threat who can create his own shots.


June 13th, 2009
2:42 am

We need to keep both, but at the same time we need to resign Flip, Zaza, Bibby. We could use Williams as a sign a trade deal withthe Raptor for Bosh. The heat gave us hell, they are pushing very hard for Bosh. If we get Bosh we will move up as one of the elite teams in the league, but if The Heat get him they will move up as one of the elite teams and we will remain where we were last year or drop a spot. Hawks got to make a splash for a true center so Harford can play his true position and Smith can move to SF. We as fans are now hungry for more playoff wins. Please Mangement go forward not backwards. Hawks can beat any team in a playoff series with Bosh, Horford, Smith, Johnson, Bobby and Evans, Flip, Zaza, Law coming off the bench. Hell they can win a Championship with that team

Al Horford

June 13th, 2009
3:28 am

You know, I can be a leader, too?


June 13th, 2009
3:29 am


trading a 3-time allstar and keeping the $58 mil a year head case with no outside shot and no court awareness whatsoever even after four years in the league and whose stats went down after a year. oh man that’s hilarious.


Ok I’m done now. oh wait, i lied


Othello Hunter

June 13th, 2009
3:30 am

Al Horford,

Quite lying, man!

Othello Hunter

June 13th, 2009
3:34 am

Opps! I meant “quit lying”. LOL!

Solomon Jones

June 13th, 2009
3:37 am

Ah, Othello. I think you meant “quit”, not “quite”? LOL!

Eric Maynor

June 13th, 2009
3:44 am

Rick Sund,

Draft me, draft me!


June 13th, 2009
4:05 am

Wetherson, what the hell are you talking about? ” He’s not young anymore?” the man is only 23 years old. Yes he tends to try to handle the ball too much and turns it over sometimes, but lets not forget he was the only guy that consistently showed up in the playoffs for us while the rest of the team adored Lebron as he walked thru the lane and dunked. Josh and Horford should be the only locks that will be here 5 years from now. Too much ups and downs by Joe.


June 13th, 2009
4:58 am

Guarantee: Josh Smith will not be a top 10 player in the NBA on this team or any other team at any point in his career. He has no discipline, an atrocious shot, and a terrible basketball IQ. Its not about coaching with him. Yes he will get better than he is now, but he is no franchise player nor someone you look at to lead your team in any way. At most, Josh Smith is a fun player to watch and a compliment to some team looking for an exciting 2nd or 3rd scoring option who can make the highlight reel to put on the JumboTron during the intro’s of every home game. Trade him now before the rest of the league figures this out.


June 13th, 2009
7:50 am

Josh Smith should be traded now before the hawks fans begin to hate him. If he is not traded, he should at least be turned into a 6th man that doesn’t have the responsibility of being consistent like the starters. Bibby will be considered overpaid the moment we give him a 4 year extension, so we should think about moving on and signing Jared Jack. Keep Marvin on the cheap and start looking for big men in the draft and in free agency. We need to get tougher on the inside.


June 13th, 2009
8:07 am

Thanks Mark, you are the hardest working writer at AJC. We are going no where with our current management and coaching staff. Do you have confidence that Woodson will help develop anyone?


June 13th, 2009
8:48 am

There is a very good chance that Josh is as good as he will ever be. Players that get better are they guys that have good attitudes and work ethic. I don’t see that happening with Josh. He will continue to rely on his athleticism and will remain a good, but not great player. Joe is a much better player that should be re-signed.

Beautiful Monte

June 13th, 2009
8:57 am

The fans who have deemed Josh Smith “untouchable” in any trade talk are the same people who will put a set of 2,000 rims on a 1987 Ford Escort.

Keisha Waites

June 13th, 2009
9:09 am

Josh Smith is no doubt a great player. However, he lacks the discipline and court savy of past great players. He has yet to step up and lead, but the Jury is still out. I think he definitely trade material!

Sam Wetherson

June 13th, 2009
9:29 am

Rikky what I meant was the he has been a starter for five years so the excuses about being young and figuring out the game are no longer valid. He is biologically young but not by NBA playing standards. He was a starter from day one. He wasn’t brought along slowly. He is just isn’t a very smart player.

As for all these trade Marvin requests you guys realize that he is the only player that has consistently gotten better After he got hurt our record was 16-14 including the playoffs. Josh Smith cannot play SF in this league. HE can’t play man on man defense. DO you guys actually watch any of the Hawks games. I haven’t missed a game in years. Mark my words we need to move him while we can!!!!


June 13th, 2009
9:31 am

Josh for Bosh and throw Speedy in to make the trade legal!!!


June 13th, 2009
9:33 am

Mark, to clarify, I would trade Josh, because then you can move Horford to PF (regardless of what Sund thinks, Al is a PF), and get a legitimate center in here. That way the Hawks would have a more traditional lineup, since Woody does not know how to utilize our current athleticism.