If the Hawks trade Josh, they lose me. (Unless it’s for Kobe.)

The annual Josh Smith trade rumors are swirling (ESPN.com link requires registration), and they make less sense than ever. The Hawks are getting close to something good, but they must negotiate a summer in which four of their top eight players are free agents of some stripe. Josh Smith is under contract through 2013. He’s not the immediate problem.

On the contrary, he’s a massive part of the solution. He’s a very good player bordering on greatness. He’s 23. He has already had his free-agent summer. He’ll be the best player on this roster in two years, and that’s even if Joe Johnson sticks around. Josh isn’t the guy you move. He’s the one you keep.

Last month Rick Sund, the Hawks’ general manager, said: “I like our club. The only reason I say that is that there’s still growth from within.” Of Smith in particular, Sund said: “I think Josh is going to continue to get better — every year he’s gotten better.”

And he has. And he should continue to do so for at least three more seasons. That’s a good thing. So why are the Hawks, if the rumors are to be believed, shopping Smoove?

Beats me. How many power forwards could you plug in for Smith and render the Hawks better overnight? David West of New Orleans? Maybe, and that’s a big “maybe.” Anderson Varejao of Cleveland? Nope. Kenyon Martin of Denver? Too old. (Same with Kevin Garnett.) Tim Duncan? Dirk Nowitzki? Sure, but I doubt their teams would do those deals.

Trading Josh Smith would be:

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Chris Bosh, you say? Now that’s a teaser. Bosh is better than Smith at this moment, but Bosh also becomes a free agent next summer. Bosh-for-Josh would gamble four more years of Smith for what could be one-and-done of Bosh. Me, I wouldn’t do it. (Go ask the Braves if they’d make the Teixeira trade again.)

If the Hawks are looking to package Smith with an eye toward improving their draft position, they’re nuts. There is no player in this draft — not Blake Griffin, not Hasheem Thabeet, not Ricky Rubio — who’s superior to Smith today, and there might not be one who’ll ever be better. This is not a LeBron draft. This is Andrea Bargnani draft. Nobody’s going to get well overnight on June 25th.

Speculation also holds that the Hawks need money to keep their aforementioned free agents. If Smith is the price for re-upping Mike Bibby or Marvin Williams, that’s a price not worth paying. Smith is more than just another Hawk. He’s the key to this team’s future. I’ll put it this way: If the Hawks trade him for anything less than Kobe Bryant, they lose me.

And now for the good news: I’m pretty sure they won’t. The trade kicker in Smith’s contract — the acquiring team must pay him $6 million on top of his salary — makes it cost-prohibitive for any prospective suitor, especially in today’s marketplace.

It’s part of the GM game to dangle players and see if there’s interest, and Sund has been a player for a long time. But if I know Sund — and I think I do, a little — I believe this is all smoke. I think Sund knows what he has in Smith. If he doesn’t, he should give me a call. I’ll tell him.

100 comments Add your comment

mobetta

June 16th, 2009
2:19 pm

ME FIRST, ME FIRST!!!!

Trade ANYONE but Josh Smith.

mobetta

June 16th, 2009
2:21 pm

Even if it is for Kobe, don’t trade him. Get rid of JJ for a starting center and let Bibby know he needs to do some restructuring.

Marcus

June 16th, 2009
2:23 pm

MB,
looks like I got in early on this one:
Was your ‘All-trade Friday’ blog a coincidence or just prepping the masses (based on insider info) for Sekou’s intel on yesterday?!!? ; wink, wink.
I agree with you. Trading Josh Smith would be a mistake (esp. for a 1-year mercenary like Bosh), regardless of how many wild 3’s he jacked up in ‘08 – ‘09.

Mark Bradley

June 16th, 2009
2:28 pm

All-Trade Friday was, as we say in the Digital world, a concept. (Actually, I believe they say that in Hollywood, not Silicon Valley.) And the rumors had been out there since the end of the season. They just got hot with Chad Ford’s post on ESPN.com yesterday.

David

June 16th, 2009
2:32 pm

Would losing Mark Bradley be that big a deal to the Hawks? It would not be a loss for the AJC either. You could write for AOL with the rest of the hacks. Say hi to Lisa Olsen for me.

e

June 16th, 2009
2:37 pm

Josh Smith is a selfish crybaby, please package him in a trade with Mark Bradley for anyone who will be a team player. Move AL to PF (his natural position) and use the crybaby and sorry blogger for a real big man in the middle.

Marcus

June 16th, 2009
2:40 pm

MB,
Who exactly is this team built around? For the near future (5 years) who SHOULD it be built around, esp. given the youth?

We have done wonders will the youthful talent and the vet presence of JJ and Bibby, but at some juncture, there has to be a focal point around which the team added supplemental pieces to forge a cohesive unit.

ant banks

June 16th, 2009
2:40 pm

MB,
why is josh untradeable to you? he is a sporadic shooter, can’t dribble, takes ill advised three, a turnover machine, very contentious with the coach. what gives. he has been in the league 5 yrs, when!! WHEN, i ask you, will we see all of this “POTENTIAL”.

his numbers were worse this year than last.

ant banks

June 16th, 2009
2:42 pm

also, MB,

packagin’ josh for bosh makes hella since for the hawks!! if bosh opts out next year, that would mean more money on the books to get players!! i say make it happen. and if jj opts out and if bosh won’t re-sign that is 30mil that the hawks have to work with

e

June 16th, 2009
2:44 pm

Josh Smith is the Jeff Francouer of the Hawks. Hometown hero, ultimate zero. I am tired of waiting on BOTH of these underacheivers to grow up and stop playing selfish. Smith will never stop taking bad threes and Jeff will never stop swinging at terrible pitches. Face the facts MB and get off the hometown boy bandwagon.

ant banks

June 16th, 2009
2:45 pm

MB,

who puts that 6mil kicker into the contract? the team or the player? and does it stay on there for the life of the contract? the 6mil kicker would serve as a deterant to trade for a guy.

Mark Bradley

June 16th, 2009
2:45 pm

When will we see all of his potential? Just guessing here … April 11, 2011. Sorry I can’t be more specific.

Mark Bradley

June 16th, 2009
2:49 pm

It was, as reported first by esteemed colleague Sekou Smith, part of the offer sheet he signed with Memphis last summer. To match the offer, the Hawks had to agree to the exact language of the Memphis deal.

Sekou tells me the trade-kicker figure — at $6 million now — decreases over time.

smh

June 16th, 2009
2:53 pm

ant banks I’m sorry but you do realize that the last time the Hawks had money to spend that nobody wanted to come here right? Whats the purpose of having 30 million to spend if you cant get anyone to come here? Players pay attention to how other teams treat their own players. Why would a player come here knowing that if the owners start penny pinching again they will trade them too. The funny part of your post if you list all the things Josh cant do yet he was our best player in the playoffs. So what does that say about the rest of our roster? Don’T worry ill be back to see your answer.

John

June 16th, 2009
2:55 pm

Mark is absolutely right. Josh has a little more maturing to do, but when you have a guy who can do all the things that he can do (he blocks shots, rebounds, runs the floor, even passes better than he gets credit for), is one of the two best athletes in the league, is locked up for several years, and is 23 years old, you do not trade him.

Also, I think we can all agree that Josh takes ill-advised threes from time to time, but to keep things in perspective:

Josh Smith, in his 5th year in the NBA: 26 3FGM, 87 3FGA (29.9%)
Michael Jordan, in his 5th year in the NBA: 27 3FGM, 98 3FGA (27.6%)

e

June 16th, 2009
2:58 pm

wait, let me make it more clear. josh and jeff are the Mark Bradley’s of their respective teams. So will we have to wait til April 2011 to see YOUR potential reached MB? I think the AJC will have to go in another direction by that time. And you’re pathetic quips in an effort to be sarcastically humorous are tiresome. You stroke your ego almost as much as you stroke the other smallest part of your body.

Terrell

June 16th, 2009
2:59 pm

e,
Comparing Smith to Francouer? Now I know people on here really lost it. In the Cleveland series what player showed up? Josh did, and while nobody else seemed to care he did. You all call him a cry baby? Have you seen Kobe and Lebron when they don’t get calls? Oh that’s right it’s doesn’t happen to them too often. I would be upset too if I kept driving to the lane and getting smacked and not foul is being called. You may win a championship if you get vet “all-stars), but if you build this team like the Falcons are and not the Braves, that means you build your young players and develop them, then you will be a consistent threat. Look at Portland. We keep Josh and move him back to the 3, Al to the 4, get a decent big man at the 5 (Jordan had serviceable centers not all-stars), JJ at the 2, and lets see what Law can do when given a chance to pay everyday. He’s a different type of PG. He drives to the basket and that is what help gets other players open. If Rick Sund knows what he’s doing he will keep those guys as well as Marvin, Flip, and Moe

e

June 16th, 2009
3:10 pm

John I agree, neither Jordan nor Josh should shoot threes. Good point. Can’t believe you even put the two names in the same post.

sheryl

June 16th, 2009
3:11 pm

I couldn’t have said it better myself. Thanks, Mark!
I would also like to say that there is more to a basketball team than just spouting the statistics of the players (like so many of these radio people seem to do). A player can be very, very skilled, but not have the intangibles to truly become a great player! Josh has that emotional spark that greatly contributes to making the Hawks who they are! Go JOSH! Go HAWKS!

ant banks

June 16th, 2009
3:12 pm

SMH,

i ride or die with the hawks. alot of y’all will ride with the hawks, but won’t die with ‘em.

i want josh to BE mature on the court. Don’t take three’s with 20secs left on the 24 sec clock. practice dribblin’, quit bitchin’ to the refs about calls or non calls.

Mark Bradley

June 16th, 2009
3:14 pm

I’ve said it before, but here goes: Josh is a game-changer. Not many players are. Sometimes he changes games for the better, and sometimes for the worse. But he’s learning.

And that stuff with Woodson and him not getting along? In my view, that has always been overblown.

mountain_jim

June 16th, 2009
3:15 pm

They will lose me also. Sund needs to get an f’ing clue and replace Woodson with a coach with an offensive plan that will help Josh succeed and one who can actually support, develop, and creatively utilize player’s talents rather than ruining them and trading or running them off.

Rufus1

June 16th, 2009
3:21 pm

Mark

Josh makes 10 million a year and does not command a double team. He cannot lead us to a championship until he learns how to play basketball.(He should tryout for the Olympics, because his a better ahthlete than basketball players.)

WE HAVE BEEN ENGAGED TO JOSH’S UPSIDE FOR 5 YEARS..WHEN WILL WE GET MARRIED TO HIS GREATNESS.

PS.. FIRE WOODY

dap01

June 16th, 2009
3:21 pm

That would be typical of Woody and the Hawks, to trade Smith (a young, athletic player) to make room to resign Bibby (old, not athletic, on the decline).

Bibby was the worst defensive PG in the NBA last year, how bad will he be next year and the next?

Rufus1

June 16th, 2009
3:22 pm

I WANT TO WIN CHAMPIONSIPS, NOT DUNK CONTESTS!!!!!!!

Jesse

June 16th, 2009
3:23 pm

If we could just hypnotize him not to shoot jumpers things would be perfect. Maybe after he scored 20 +ppg in the playoffs around the rim got to him. Maybe he’ll realize he can do that all next year.

Halsey

June 16th, 2009
3:28 pm

I’m not open to the idea of trading Josh because he’s a bad player or anything, but because the Hawks have multiple needs and 2 starting quality power forwards. I’d rather keep Horford if I had to choose between the 2. I’d only want to trade Josh if he could be used to address a position with a long term starter, such as PG or C Sometimes players get traded because there is wealth at their position and needs at other positions. The best situation to me would be if the Hawks could trade sign and trade Marvin, start both Horford and Smith at forward, and get a center in return for Marvin. Yeah, that means the Hawks would basically be starting 2 power forwards, but that’s not unheard of.

tree rollins

June 16th, 2009
3:31 pm

Trade Mike Woodson – Keep Josh Smith!!!

Mike In Valdosta

June 16th, 2009
3:34 pm

We will miss you, Mark! Just kidding.

Josh is a prime example of the pitfalls related to drafting teenagers and giving them millions of dollars. He has all the physical tools but he sometimes plays with the IQ of a potted plant. If nothing else, college forces you to exercise the brain and learn to think. Josh appears uncoachable at times. He will never get it through his head that the reason he is always open for a three point shot is because that is the shot the opposition wants him to take. We can all see the flinch, he knows he shouldn’t do it, but gosh darn he is going to do it anyone. Just like a spoiled child.

I hope we keep him and he gets his head straight because I do believe the sky is the limit with regards to his potential.

GeeMack

June 16th, 2009
3:39 pm

Mark I totally diagree with you on this one. If I can get Amare from PHX. I’ll let Josh go in a heart beat. The current make up of this team is not one that can win a championship, and thats what the teams play for a championship. Al Jefferson had great upside, but Celtics wanted to win a Championship. So they traded a player with great upside great player in his prime.

Dr Richard Handler

June 16th, 2009
3:41 pm

Josh Smith is a selfish player. You say no matter how many ill advised 3’s he jacked up??? Come on, the guy might have the least basketball knowledge of any player I’ve seen!!! Please, trade him and you trade the future??? Let him go be a G.A. for Mike Davis and let his dad have a seat next to “M.D.” on the bench.

TROTTINGHOME

June 16th, 2009
3:43 pm

Josh Smith ain’t going any where.

Woodson is a different story.

Mark Bradley

June 16th, 2009
3:43 pm

I don’t trust Stoudemire’s knees, GeeMack. Otherwise I’d do that one, too.

Jus Sayin...

June 16th, 2009
3:46 pm

How can you be against something if you don’t know what it is?

We don’t know what some other team might give up to get Josh. According to the columnist this guy is very good, so why not see what you can get for him. If someone will make you a Herschel Walker like trade you would be dumb not to take it. Josh Smith is not a top10 player and never will be. You telling me Shaq can get traded but not Josh Smith? Puhleeeze!

tree rollins

June 16th, 2009
3:47 pm

While on the subject of trades I suggest the following:
-Trade Mike Woodson for a used Yanni CD and an autographed picture of Boy George
-Trade Acie Law for any point guard in the NBA that averages more than 3 points
-And since an NBA franchise actually traded Pau Gasol for Kwame Brown let’s offer the Lakers Marvin Williams since for Gasol since at least he’s an NBA starter (when he plays)

Mike Smith

June 16th, 2009
3:48 pm

He still plays without any depth to his game and will never win anything, get him outta here!!

Mark Bradley

June 16th, 2009
3:52 pm

Advance warning: Mr. Schultz and I offer our different takes and present one move to fix the Hawks tomorrow at 11 a.m.

Sneak preview. Mine involves trading Marvin.

lawton

June 16th, 2009
3:52 pm

what have they won WITH smith???

shresee2

June 16th, 2009
3:52 pm

I think the organization will realize after 2 playoff seasons how great it was to have playoff basketball in the ATL. The players have commented on how the fans get them going, even when they came home for game 3 against Boston, Phillip’s was sold out they never saw anything like it. You heard Miami comment on how Atlanta has built a home court advantage, and Josh is a part of that. Trade him NO WAY. In game 7 everyone said for the hawks to win the guy to change things was Josh Smith, not JJ or Biddy. In game 1 with the Cav’s at half time Lebron said they must stop Josh from inside. He does not get double teams because teams have trouble with Josh inside, look at his dunks they get out of the way. Instead of putting him down he needs to learn a jumpshot, because teams just stop up the lane and not let him to the basket, so he needs no double team because they know he is not a jump shooter. I think playing in the summer with other stars may improve his game and his jump shot. I know he has been in the league for 5 years but he is 23 years old. Most of us at 23 was still finding out who we are and that is where Josh is. I think there is where college ball would have helped a player like Josh. Al and marvin seem to have matured quicker, coming from college I believed helped. Hawks fans hold on, we can do it. I hope the coaches get back to the inside out game because when they were on the big winning streak in the beginning of the year and in december it was the front court of josh and al. They may not be bigger then some but they can out jump them. JSmooth practice that jump stop and see you next year. There is no highlight factory without you.

Luther

June 16th, 2009
3:59 pm

Sund said: “I think Josh is going to continue to get better — every year he’s gotten better.”

Bradley-And he has.

Is this excluding last year, because unless your only talking about increasing his field goal percentage I just don’t see it.

G FT Reb Ast Stl Blk Tov Ppg
2007-08 22 ATL NBA 81 .710 8.4 3.4 1.5 2.8 3.1 17.5
2008-09 23 ATL NBA 69 .588 7.4 2.5 1.4 1.7 2.4 16.0

Nookah

June 16th, 2009
3:59 pm

I don’t post here very often but I do read the posts from other bloggers quite frequently. However, due to the topic of this blog I feel compelled to post.

I have been watching the Hawks for quite a while now. Ever since the Domininque, Doc, Spud Webb era, there has been a steady decline in this franchise. There is a direct corelation between success and the quality of management of any sports franchise. If you get mediocre quality of management you’ll get mediocre results and if you have enterprising and high quality management, there is a high probability you’ll get success.

Mark you are indeed on point. If they trade Josh Smith I will be indeed lost for ever. That will be it for me, unless as you say, Kobe, which as you know is indeed impossible, not even improbable. It just is not going to happen. The sad thing is that it just might happen.

A number of posts, both here and on other blogs, have alluded to the fact that Sund’s drafting history leaves much to be desired and that has me very very worried. This therefore increases my stressors for this summer. I was not only worried about Sund’s draft pick but I am now very worried that they’ll trade Josh. It will be a sad, sad day if that trade is ever made.

Let me just say that if that trade is indeed made I’ll have no option but to sing……………

Rock of ages, cleft for me, Let me hide myself in thee…………

Go Hawks!!!

Let’s hope we don’t R.I.P!!!!!

P.S………….Can a coach be traded? Just asking!!!!
Nuff respect everytime!!!!

Rick Sund

June 16th, 2009
4:03 pm

Mark,

Just read your column. You raise very interesting points. I agree with you on some counts but disagree with you on several others.

All in all, I still have conflicted emotions on Josh. His play can be tantalizingly good but he only plays consistent basketball in short spurts. By definition, that makes him an inconsistent player, no? I mean, when in tarnation will that young man stop jacking three-point bombs? Shucks, even that Shaquille O’Neal fella listens when coach says “Hey pillowhead, drive to the basket.” When Coach Woody says that, Josh just puts on this pouty face and cringes. He looks like a 4-year old who is debating whether to throw a temper tantrum. And I have to pay this booger 48 million buckaroos over the next 4 years. Gad-zooks!!

I’m off to scout these two guys that Chad Ford of ESPN says the Hawks are projected to draft – one’s name is Jeff Teague from Wake Forest and the other is Tywon Lawson from North Carolina. I like the idea of drafting a kid from the ACC because Shelden Williams and Marvin Williams worked out super well for us in past drafts. And that Chad Ford guy is right – we need a point guard because that kooky former GM of ours kept drafting busts!! (If you’re reading this, Acie, jk rotfl).

My good friend Mark Bradley, always nice to converse with you the old fashioned way – via message board. Give me a ringy-ding next week and we’ll catch up.

Richard Sund
General Manager, Atlanta Hawks

John

June 16th, 2009
4:06 pm

e @ 3:10 – sarcasm noted. My argument was not that neither Smith nor Jordan should attempt threes. Rather, I was using those statistics to illustrate a couple of related points:
1. Most NBA players become more skilled and make better decisions as they age and gain experience. Jordan, whose jump shot improved greatly later in his career, is a prominent example, though individual examples are probably unnecessary, as the general point should be obvious to anyone with more than a casual interest in professional basketball. It’s possible that Josh Smith will improve neither (a) his jump shot nor (b) his understanding of what a good shot is, but it’s unlikely.
2. No player is perfect, despite what Jordan’s hagiographers would have us all believe. It’s shortsighted to dismiss a player solely based on his flaws, especially if outweighed by his positive attributes, as I believe they are in Smith’s case.

RG

June 16th, 2009
4:08 pm

Right on MB, trading Josh would set the franchise back when it is just now going somewhere. If they trade him for draft picks in a weak draft they will lose a life long fan in me. It would have to be a great trade, but that will be hard to find something that makes sense when you have a game changer that is only 23 and under contract for several more years at what may turn out to be a bargain price.

Glenn

June 16th, 2009
4:11 pm

We need to shop Joe Johnson . He is only under contract for another season .

GOTech610

June 16th, 2009
4:16 pm

Don’t Trade HIM!!!!!! DUMB MOVE…..ASK THOMAS DIMITROFF HOW TO TRADE!!!!!!!

ROLLTIDE23

June 16th, 2009
4:24 pm

Come on guys. You know we all hold our breath when smith let go of one of those wild jump shots. He has been in the league 6 years and still cannot shoot a jumper. Get him out of here. JJ needs help from the other wing.

DC

June 16th, 2009
4:38 pm

I am a huge Hawks fan. Basketball in Atlanta was more exciting to watch these past fews years, moreso than it ever had (since the Nique era). I do not agree with a lot of stuff Josh does, but he is still growing and will become a great player. He is a huge part of the excitement for the Hawks and a bigger reason most of the fans come out and support the team. My biggest issue is the coach, if anyone should get traded it should be good ole Woody.

rms

June 16th, 2009
4:53 pm

trade Woodson for a bag of beans!!!

O'brien

June 16th, 2009
4:53 pm

Mark,

We always talk about Josh reaching his potential in time, especially if he plays somewhere else. But On Sekou’s blog, somebody mentioned Lamar Odom. Like Josh, he is very skilled, but very inconsistent. When he plays well, the Lakers are a different team. He played for Pat Riley in Miami, and Phil Jackson in LA. Been in the league over 10 years, and he is still inconsistent. And if If I’m not mistaken, years ago, everybody thought Lamar Odom would be a great player. He can play SF, PF, handle the ball, and play good defense. But he is still ridiculously inconsistent.

Dont get me wrong, I’m a Josh Smith fan, but I wanted to present another (borrowed) side of the equation, which leads me to say that in 2 years, we might still be having this discussion about Josh. About how inconsistent he is etc…