After losing Rajon Rondo, Jared Sullinger and Leandro Barbosa for the season, Boston needs a star, or at the very least, a potent talent. And as the rift between Smith and the Atlanta Hawks continues to grow, it’s clear he needs a change of scenery. Which is why it’s no surprise that there may be some mutual interest from both parties.
According to Gery Woelfel of The Journal Times, a Smith to Boston rumbling is still very much alive.
I keep hearing Josh Smith’s primary destination is Boston.
— Gery Woelfel (@GeryWoelfel) February 14, 2013
Before Celtics fans go out and buy their customized Josh Smith jerseys, though, I pose this: What is Woelfel taking about? By “primary” does he mean the most likely landing spot? Or is he just saying that Boston is Smith’s preferred destination?
The two are very different, more so than usual. With the Celtics nearly void of assets, Smith’s desire to play for them means little. He’d undoubtedly be forced to shape up under the ever meticulous Doc Rivers and Boston does present a bigger market for him to play in, but the team just doesn’t have enough to offer Atlanta.
Avery Bradley might be of some interest to the Hawks, but 1) he’s nowhere near enough on his own and 2) Atlanta already has a crowded backcourt. If the Hawks were interested in Jeff Green the Celtics could have a chance, but his is a long term contract Atlanta won’t want to take on if they don’t wish to jeopardize their impending cap space. Kevin Garnett is unlikely to waive his no-trade clause to go there and Paul Pierce just wouldn’t fit the mold of what the Hawks were trying to build. Plus, if you’re the Celtics, why are you trading either of those two after they’ve played so well in Rondo’s absence?
But while I still maintain that Boston is a long shot to land Smith, the Celtics may actually have some hope.
Per ESPN.com’s Chris Broussard, the trade market for Smith may not be as competitive as one would think:
I say that because that’s what I’ve been told by someone close to the situation. It’s doubtful that Smith signs long term with the Hawks this summer — unless they max him — so GM Danny Ferry may move him for assets now. Thing is, one GM told me he thinks the Nets’ non-impressive offer of Kris Humphries and Marshon Brooks may be the best Atlanta gets. Ouch.
If this is indeed true, and the Nets are actually putting forth the best offer Atlanta will see, Boston stands a chance. If they can somehow construct a three- or four-team deal that gets Atlanta a marginal young talent (comparable to the ceiling of Brooks), an expiring contract and maybe a first-round pick, the Celtics’ chances drastically increase. There’s nothing to be be gained by Atlanta taking on long term money, so the expiring contracts to match the financial relief Smith is about to provide is key, as are budding prospects and picks.
Again, this is only if the Hawks’ backs are up against the walls, only if a Kris Humphries and Marshon Brooks package becomes the standard. Only then does Boston have a legitimate shot.
Still, even then, it’s hard to envision Smith donning a Celtics jersey.
Not because we can’t picture him in any other uniform than Atlanta’s, but because a lot of things would have to go Boston’s way—and I mean a lot—just to even make it a possibility.
Dan Favale is an avid basketball analyst and firm believer in the three-pointer as well as the notion that defense doesn’t always win championships. His work can be found at Bleacherreport.com in addition to TheHoopDoctors.com. Follow @danfavale on Twitter for his latest posts and all things NBA.