Friday 23rd February 2018,
The Hoop Doctors

Josh Smith to Phoenix Suns Trade Makes No Sense

Let me take this opportunity to welcome you inside one month of the NBA’s trade deadline, where the visibly absurd threatens to become truth.

Speaking of the visibly absurd, the Atlanta Hawks have never appeared more likely to deal Josh Smith than they do now. And no, that’s not the insane part.

What’s crazy is the fact that the Phoenix Suns are believed to be making a play for his services.

Per Alex Kennedy of HOOPSWORLD, the Suns will look to assemble a trade package that they hope will ultimately pry Smith out of the Hawks’ hands:

The Suns are very interested in Smith and have had exploratory talks with the Atlanta Hawks about the 27-year-old forward. Phoenix views Smith as a franchise player who can be one of the cornerstones of the team for years to come. The Suns have been searching for a face of the franchise since Steve Nash’s departure last summer, and Smith could be exactly that. If the Hawks decide it’s time to part ways with Smith, the Suns will be one of the teams on the phone.

Phoenix has attractive assets, particularly Marcin Gortat, who could play alongside Al Horford and give the Hawks one of the best frontcourts in the Eastern Conference. They also have Jared Dudley and Michael Beasley as well as the expiring contracts of Wes Johnson, Shannon Brown (whose 2013-14 salary is non-guaranteed), Sebastian Telfair and Jermaine O’Neal. Phoenix also has several first-round picks – their own pick and two additional first-round picks that they acquired in the Nash trade with the Los Angeles Lakers and the Johnson trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Luis Scola could also be involved in the trade, but only if the deal is a sign-and-trade since he can’t be traded until July 1 due to the fact that he was signed by the Suns after being amnestied by the Houston Rockets.

Phoenix is desperate to acquire a superstar. As Kennedy notes, they attempted to acquire Rudy Gay, but to no avail. Its pursuit of Smith, a superstar in his own right, someone who can be the face of the franchise, then makes sense.

Or does it?

For one, I’m not crazy about what the Suns offer Atlanta. Marcin Gortat and a couple first-rounders would be a great start, but as for fillers like Jared Dudley and Michael Beasley, I’m less than sold. Not only are both one-dimensional scorers, but their contracts are one of the more undesirable pacts out there. If Phoenix can find a third and/or fourth team to assume a bad contract or two while also helping the Hawks get more of what they need, then perhaps they’d have a shot.

But even then, does it make sense?

The Suns were already wary of their ability to afford Gay, why would Smith prove any different? Why can they all of a sudden afford to house a max-level player?

Better yet, why are they willing to take a chance on Smith?


I understood their pursuit of Gay (to an extent). Like Smith, he was a superstar they could build around. Unlike Smith, he wasn’t an impending free agent. Phoenix had all of this season and next to convince him it was headed in the right direction before he entered free agency. And even then, Gay had a player option for the 2014-15 season worth nearly $20 million that he would have been hard-pressed to turn down.

Smith, though, is under no such lock and key. He will be an unrestricted free agent upon season’s end and could spurn the Suns should he see fit.

Is this to say he definitely would?

Absolutely not. We know he fancies himself a max contract player, and if Phoenix is prepared to offer him a max deal, he could stick around. Or he could accept a max offer from another team that pays him a little less over four years instead of five. Or he could sign a one year deal with another team just to re-up for the max of the max the following summer.

Yes, to build a winning faction, you have to take risks, but this one presents too great a peril for the Suns to undertake. Smith holds no loyalty to them and if he leaves, they’ll have traded away Gortat and a bevy of draft picks, among other assets, for essentially nothing.

And should he stay, there’s no guarantee he revives what has become a docile franchise. Remember, the Hawks haven’t made it out of the second round of the playoffs with Smith, and they never hesitated to spend to place talent around him (and Joe Johnson). What makes the Suns believe it’s going to be different for them? What makes them think Smith will be enough to lure in other big names? What makes them think they’ll be able to afford even him, let alone others?

My intent isn’t to belittle the talents of Smith or the motive of Phoenix. He’s an athletic fiend who can make a difference on both ends of the floor and the Suns’ interest is understandable, but 1) he has the potential to become a very expensive rental for Phoenix and 2) I’m not sure he’s a player a small market team should mortgage their future on.

If the Suns were in a bigger market or already had another star to complement Smith, like the Boston Celtics or Los Angeles Lakers do, then I’d be writing to the beat of a different drum. But they don’t. Because they can’t afford to.

Just like they can’t afford to pursue Smith with the unrelenting vigor it’s ultimately going to take to obtain him.

Dan Favale is a firm believer in the three-pointer as well as the notion that defense doesn’t always win championships. His musings can be found at in addition to Follow @danfavale on Twitter for his latest posts and all things NBA.

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  • noitall man

    You bewilder me.

    Your article has
    a faulty premise, incorrect assessments and screwy conclusions.

    First of all, why
    would Josh Smith, a guy that is probably 98% going to sign elsewhere in less
    than a few months, command a trade that would include the package of players
    and picks that you suggest here being not enough?

    ATL is in a
    pickle, because at this point, Smith holds little value in trade terms because
    of his status. I am not sure signing him to a MAX deal makes that different. It
    isn’t as though Smith is one of the top 10 players in the league. In fact, I
    would argue he is somewhere in the 30-40 range. He is not a MAX player by any

    Yet you suggest
    the Suns should trade Gortat, Dudley, Beasley and a couple of first round picks
    all to be graced with the opportunity to overpay Smith?

    You are right
    about that making no sense.

    You suggest that
    the Suns would do this deal with Smith being unsigned only shows you have been
    smoking something. The deal is lopsided in favor of ATL already, yet to suggest
    that Smith would be traded without the Suns requiring a long term deal in place
    while unloading half their future is beyond ludicrous.

    You also suggest
    that doing so risks trading Gortat for nothing. Well, I have news for you:
    Gortat has only one year after this and will be outta here faster than taco
    bell goes through my system. The Suns HAVE to trade him now to get anything in
    value in return. So whatever that is, it is better than nothing.

    You also
    completely undervalue and mis-assess Jared Dudley. Dudley is not a one
    dimensional scorer on a bad contract. That is probably the worst description of
    him I have ever heard. Jared Dudley is a guy that can shoot the three, has a
    very nice midrange game, plays very good defense and is a leader ANDS is on a
    GREAT contract.

    is NON-dimensional on a bad contract.Why he would be thought of as a catch, I
    don’t know but I will let ATL believe that all they want.

    the Suns, they should not give up any picks in this deal. Throw in expiring deals of Brown, Telfair and
    O’Neal so ATL gets cap relief, but that is it. I still don’t know if I do that
    deal if I have to pay Josh Smith that kind of money.

    • Dan

      Um, when did I argue they should make that trade? Never. I was responding to report and drawing the same conclusion you did: That doing so would make no sense.

      As for Dudley, he’s not athletic or especially quick. He can’t create his own shot (well). He’s owed something like $17 million over the next for years and that’s hardly a desirable deal, let alone for a Hawks seem that has plenty of shooters in Morrow, Korver, Williams (when healthy), etc. As for Beasley, he has the potential to be so much more but he lacks commitment on the defensive end. Simple as that.

      No problem with you attempting to argue the contrary, but have no idea what all the hostility is all about. My premise, logic and validity were not faulty. Again, I drew the same conclusion you did and was responding to a report.

      • noitall man

        Dudley is on one of the most reasonable contracts in the NBA. His production outweighs his salary immensely and everyone in the league knows that. Regardless of his athleticism, he produces, is a leader, is a well-liked locker room presence, and does more than you think he does.

        Beasley has been on 4 teams and been abandoned by all. Suns signed him thinking he would come in and score, but he hasn’t done it efficiently or consistently. Beasley has NO potential. He has proven that over and over again.