As such we must take Alex Kennedy of HOOPWROLD’s latest report that the New York Knicks are targeting Josh Smith with a grain of salt:
Every year at the trade deadline, there is at least one move that comes out of left field – a deal that nobody talked about or saw coming in the weeks leading up to the deadline. This year, it sounds like the New York Knicks are the team that’s attempting to swing for the fences and pull off that deal.
While the Knicks have weighed several minor deals that would bring in a veteran role player – such as Jared Dudley, J.J. Redick or Luke Ridnour – they have also been gauging interest in an Amar’e Stoudemire and Iman Shumpert package, according to sources. The Knicks are shopping this package in an attempt to land a significant player. One player that they’d like to pry loose is Josh Smith of the Atlanta Hawks, according to a league source. While it’s admittedly unlikely, it’s a rumor that has floated around in recent days.
I know what you’re thinking: The Atlanta Hawks would be fools to agree to such a deal.
Admittedly, I disagree, and I’m also here to tell you the Knicks would be the foolish ones in this instance.
I get that Stoudemire isn’t the worth the $45-plus million he’s owed over the next two seasons, I really do. But on a team nearly void of size, Stoudemire’s refined post presence is a must on the offensive end. And I for one don’t want to see them give that up in favor of Smith and a Zaza Pachulia-type player.
New York is still awaiting the returns of two big men in Rasheed Wallace and Marcus Camby. Trading Stoudemire essentially leaves Tyson Chandler as the lone player capable of defending the center position. Though the Knicks could push for Pachulia in any deal, the Hawks might not want to give him up.
Stoudemire’s 13.6 points per game are the lowest he’s totaled since his rookie year and his 4.8 rebounds are the worst of his career, but these numbers are coming while receiving just over 22 minutes a night, also a career-low. Extrapolate those over 36 minutes and Stoudemire is averaging 21.5 points and 7.6 rebounds.
For those wondering, Smith is averaging just 17.5 points and and 8.7 rebounds per 36 minutes, which is hardly an upgrade.
What’s that? It’s all about defense, you say?
Even I have to concede Smith is the better defender by far, but Stoudemire has defended significantly better as he continues to work his way back into the lineup. He’s rotating off screens with more purpose, learning the ins and outs of proper spacing and appears more committed in general. Per 82games.com, he’s holding opposing power forwards and centers to a combined PER of 12.2 per 48 minutes as well.
I’ll still never attempt to argue Stoudemire’s the better defender, but he’s not as much as a liability this season.
My biggest concern, though, is how Smith would fare next to Carmelo Anthony. Both are best suited play the 4 as a stretch forward. Within the same lineup, that’s a slot only one of them could man. Melo is posting a 24.5 PER at power forward to Smith’s 17.5, so the honor would easily go to him. But do the Knicks really want to trade Stoudemire, who is posting a PER of 26 at center, for Smith to play small forward, where he’s putting up a PER of 16.6?
It must be noted that PERs are not the be-all, end-all of player fits, but they are a good measure of how one is performing. Right now, the case could be made that both Smith and Stoudemire are excelling in their respective roles, but for what the Knicks need, and given the role STAT has played off the bench, he’s the better fit for this team.
No, I’m not crazy. I’m a realist.
Mike Woodson may be just the coach to keep Smith in line (they have history), but I don’t want to see the Knicks invest long term money in J-Smoove. They’re set to have a wealth of cap space entering the summer of 2015 and Smith would eradicate plenty of that.
Let’s not neglect to mention that trading for Smith would cost New York Iman Shumpert as well. He’s struggling while recovering from an ACL injury, but he’s shown flashes of being the premiere defender he was last season.
The thinking here could be that the Knicks are a veteran team who went on a tear sans both Stoudemire and Shumpert, but I just don’t buy it. And in all honesty, I don’t see the Hawks jumping at such an offer anyway.
So if I were the Knicks, I’d save myself the trouble and cease talks immediately.
If said talks even exist at all.
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 Bleacherreport.com in addition to TheHoopDoctors.com. Follow @danfavale on Twitter for his latest posts and all things NBA.