Chatter about a Pau Gasol-to-Atlanta simply won't go away. It won't go away mostly because my ESPN colleague Bill Simmons, after hearing Magic Johnson suggest it on the set of "NBA Countdown," keeps throwing it out there like he did in this week's "BS Report" podcast with former Suns general manager Steve Kerr.
Only one problem.
Sources say that the Hawks, at present, have no interest in parting with Josh Smith and Kyle Korver for Gasol. Or even Smith and lesser parts for Gasol.
Positions can obviously change between now and the Feb. 21 trade deadline, but sources maintain that Atlanta has not been enticed in the least by the prospect of parting with the 26-year-old Smith -- even as he heads into unrestricted free agency -- for the 32-year-old Gasol. The Hawks, for the record, have also been telling interested teams that they value Smith and what he offers as a hybrid forward in an Eastern Conference that's generally been getting smaller.
It's undeniably true that the Lakers, if they're missing anything to make Mike D'Antoni's offense flow, could use an extra shooter or two to float to the corners. It's likewise true, sources said, that the Lakers have had internal discussions for months about pursuing Smith, not only for his athletic gifts but also knowing that J-Smoove is one of free agent-to-be Dwight Howard's closest friends in the game. But if that's really who L.A. wants, there will have to be another team or two recruited into the deal to satisfy Atlanta's demands.
Josh Smith is one of (if not the biggest) names that will be available at the trade deadline. Celtics fans have long had dreams of bringing Rondo's close friend to Boston, and Smith has shared those dreams, but the chances of that happening are remote. The Celtics simply don't have the assets that Atlanta would want in a trade. Sure Atlanta might be fine with Avery Bradley and Jared Sullinger, but the contracts don't add up. And the Celtics don't have the expiring contracts to make it work. You'd need to include a couple of these contracts: Jeff Green, Brandon Bass, and Courtney Lee, which all have several years left. Atlanta would never take Green's contract, so it would have to be Bradley, Sullinger, Bass, and Lee. That's a lot for the Celtics to give up even if Atlanta was willing to accept that offer. The only other option is the nuclear one, which would be using Pierce's contract. This of course would cause Celtics fans to riot, cry, or both. Point is Smith almost undoubtedly isn't coming to Boston.
I'm still not happy that Nash chose L.A. Couldn't you have just
gone to the Raptors, so I could still enjoy watching you play?
A more plausible trading partner is the Lakers unfortunately. It would have to be a three-team deal as the Hawks would be rebuilding so they wouldn't want Gasol. Maybe something like Smith to the Lakers, Gasol to the Wolves, and young players and expiring contracts to the Hawks. The goal for the Lakers here would be in essence to create a souped up Suns team from a few years ago. One where Nash would play Nash, Smith would play Marion, Howard would play a much better Amar'e and Kobe would play a much better Joe Johnson.
Since I don't see Smith coming to Boston, I now switch to "come on someone else trade for him not named the Lakers" mode. This is identical to my thinking around this time regarding Dwight Howard. Once I knew he'd never sign in Boston, my main goal regarding his future was just please not L.A. If it must be, Orlando better require getting both Bynum and Gasol. But no, the Lakers got another gift.
So let's if we can create some other possible landing spots for Smith that don't leave him wearing the purple and egg yolk. That's what the comments section is for. Get to it.
p.s. For those wondering if Smith can make a power play like CP3, Melo, and Howard to force the Hawks to trade him to Boston the answer is no. The Celtics have no cap space to sign him next Summer, so if Smith said, "Hey if you don't trade me to Boston, I'll just sign there outright," the Hawks would just laugh at him. Smith isn't taking the MLE.