From Mike Bresnahan:
The Atlanta Hawks have aggressively tried to trade power forward Josh Smith to the Lakers for Pau Gasol, initially expressing interest in Gasol shortly after Oklahoma City eliminated the Lakers in the Western Conference semifinals, The Times has learned.
Key takeaway: Hawks aggressively tried to trade Smith for Gasol, not the other way around.
Makes sense for Los Angeles, get younger, get more athletic, get rid of over 38 million in contractual obligations to Gasol over the next two seasons.
The Hawks would have to add a player in this scenario, say Marvin Williams, but the complication comes in when you remember that Josh Smith has a 15 percent trade kicker in his contract that would make a trade between two teams over the cap more difficult.
This is how I explained the trade kicker last offseason -- remember that now Smith only has one year left on his deal, rather than two when I wrote this, but it still explains the kicker.
Smith has a 15% trade kicker built into his contract.
This means that if Smith gets dealt, he receives a bonus of 15 percent of the value of his remaining contract. So, as according to that Sham Sports link provided, this means Smith will be given approx 3.87M upon any deal involving him.
So while financially that's burdensome to whoever picks up the tab, let's look at the cap implications of dealing Smith with this clause in place.
The pay out is evenly divided into both remaining seasons, not pro-rated, per Larry Coon. So with Smith set to make 12.5M this season, 1/2 the 3.87M bonus, or 1.935M would be added to Smith's cap number in a trade.
The complication comes in because the Hawks (outgoing team) only count 12.5M in deal and can only take a max/min of 125% back, meaning salaries between 9.37M/15.63M. The team receiving Smith counts the full 14.43M toward them. This means at a max/min, the team trading for Smith has to deal salaries between 10.82M and 18.04M.
Which means the landing zone of salaries shrinks down to 10.82M and 15.63M if Smith is the only player from the Hawks in the deal. Not as impossible to deal as a Poison Pill Provision on extensions, which is 50% of contract value when applicable, rather than dealing with 15%, but narrows it a little bit.
That explained (unless I completely botched it, which is possible due to my stellar SEC education), I wouldn't expect that any deal involving Smith would be significantly hindered at all by this kicker, but you can bet whoever trades for Smith will be asked to pick up a good portion (max 3M) of the kicker fee.
Besides the financial part of the deal, let's look at the logistical:
Pau Gasol coming to Atlanta would give the good guys a legit center who can pass the ball rather well. It moves Al Horford to power forward and frees up the Hawks to grab the best player instead of just grabbing a center because they may feel obligated to do so after Horford and Pachulia went down and the Hawks were bare inside.
The flip side is Gasol is 31, never been mistaken for the Kevin Garnett-type, personality wise and has been shopped by the Lakers the past two seasons despite his productivity and efficiency.
His PER took a dip by three points to just over 20.0, though it could be explained away as fallout from being traded to Houston in the league-nixed Chris Paul deal and then having to report back to Los Angeles after it fell through.
Now, is this real?
If we are to believe this rumor, we have to believe that Rick Sund, who was already out the door, by his own choosing, was trying to get this done before the team found his replacement.
Possible? Sure -- Sund was going to stay on for another year if Bruce Levenson couldn't land Danny Ferry or find a suitable replacement, so he could have gotten the ball rolling if he felt there was no chance Josh Smith would re-sign with the Hawks or if the team had lost interest in doing the same.
Fact is that the time has changed and now it is Danny Ferry in command, and there is nothing to say that Ferry would make this deal or anything else.
Exit Question: Is Pau Gasol enough for Josh Smith?