Jeff Schultz: Is It Time For Atlanta To Part With Josh Smith?

The AJC's Jeff Schultz asks have the Hawks and Josh Smith had enough of each other? I admit it, I have asked myself the same question many times. It seems that over the course of my debate with myself, I can come up with as many reasons to keep Smith as there is to trade him. For every ill-advised jump shot there is a game changing block. For anyone to see what Josh Smith means to the Atlanta Hawks needs only to watch them play a game defensively without him. He is the last line of defense and if the Hawks do entertain the thought of moving him, they must replace him defensively.

One area that Schultz touches on that hasn't been discussed before though is Smith tiring of the Hawks?

I spoke to him the day following one bad shooting performance in the playoffs and he said, "I know sometimes I take shots I shouldn’t. But I’m not the only one in here who takes bad shots. I just get talked about more than anybody else."

and even a T.O. reference

"The media is trying to ‘T.O.’ me," he said, referencing NFL wide receiver Terrell Owens, a frequent target of blame.

Yikes!

Honestly though, Smith does have a point to a certain extent. He is held responsible for the Hawks success or lack there of because his talent clearly impacts those games as much or more than any of his teammates. When he plays to his strengths he shows how tough of a match up he is for every other team in the league. When he doesn't he leaves fans searching for answers. 

Case in point was in the series with Chicago. After much had been made of his shot selection and the futility of his jump shot, Josh took it upon himself to attack the basket more and the result was his best game of the playoffs. The trick is that after seven seasons in the league, it shouldn't take a public flogging from the major media outlets for Smith to realize his strengths and weaknesses. To be fair though I often wonder just how good this Hawks team could be if they weren't constantly their own worst enemy. 

Does all of that inconsistency warrant the Hawks to trade him though? Schultz points out the danger in that scenario. 

The risk of trading Smith is that he finally turns into that consistent game-changer we’ve envisioned since his rookie season. The downside to not trading him now is if he doesn’t become that soon, his value on the trade market will plummet.

Before this season I was in the Smith probably needed to be moved camp. After paying a little more attention this season to what Smith means defensively I have backed off that somewhat. Many will say package Smith for a center and that makes sense to a certain extent. 

My question would be who? What center? Marc Gasol? Andrew Bynum? Someone of that caliber? If an offer like that comes then Atlanta has to listen in my opinion. Just be careful what you wish for. It wouldn't be the first time an Atlanta franchise made a trade that it lived to regret. 

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