Like the Lakers, the Nets seem to be linked to every big name that appears on the market. Last season it was Dwight Howard and this year, it’s Josh Smith of the Atlanta Hawks.
According to ESPN.com’s Chris Broussard, Brooklyn is making a hard push for the star forward:
The Brooklyn Nets are aggressively pursuing a trade for Atlanta Hawks star forward Josh Smith, league sources told ESPN.
The two teams are engaged in discussions, but one source said while “there has been lots of talk, nothing is close yet.”
The Nets are willing to give up Humphries and second-year shooting guard MarShon Brooks for Smith. But it almost certainly will take more than a Humphries-Brooks combination to pry Smith away from Atlanta, and one source said the Hawks want Brooklyn’s first-round pick.
To be honest, I’m not sure how I feel about this one for the Nets. On the one hand, Smith is an athletic freak who can do a bit of everything. But on the other, I’m not sure how he fits into Brooklyn’s current blueprint.
Though a lineup of Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Gerald Wallace, Smith and Brook Lopez is about as formidable as they come on paper, the Nets are struggling to find offensive continuity as it is. Smith’s 16.9 points per game should theoretically give the Nets’ 22nd-ranked offense a boost, yet he’s not exactly what you would call a consistent scorer. How would he fare battling for touches within an already star-driven offense?
Defensively, Smith is beast. He’s someone who can grab rebounds, block shots and defend nearly every position. A case could then be made that his defensive stylings would fit right in with a Nets team that is fifth in points allowed per game 94.3.
But while we can debate Smith’s value with the Nets to no end, the real complexity of this deal stems from the personnel being exchanged. Kris Humphries and Marshon Brooks would make sense to Atlanta from a financial standpoint, but are they really worth relinquishing Smith?
Broussard also noted that the Hawks want a center in exchange in Smith. Short of trading Brook Lopez (they won’t), the Nets can’t offer someone who fits that bill and will therefore have to find a third team to facilitate a deal. From there, additional pieces will have to be swapped and draft picks will have to grease hands.
If Brooklyn can sell Atlanta on such a package, though, this could prove to be one of the biggest steals in recent memory. Smith’s fit with the Nets isn’t guaranteed, but he’s considered a superstar by many and his rim-rocking personality gives the team yet another to try and build around.
Brooklyn also presents Smith with the larger market he has never been exposed to. He’s spent his entire career contending for mediocrity in Atlanta. A move to New York would give him the opportunity to contend for a championship while building a more recognizable brand.
Yet again, are the Hawks going to be keen on moving Smith within the conference for what is nothing short of an underwhelming trade package?
With Mikhail Prokhorov’s checkbook open 24/7 and Atlanta more willing than ever to deal Smith, the Nets aren’t a team I would sleep on at the deadline. Given their lack of appealing assets, though, it’s unlikely they have another blockbuster of this caliber in them.
Should they find a third team that can offer the Hawks more of what they want, however, I may stand to eat my own words.
While the Nets would stand to get far more compelling than they already are.
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.