Rumors have been swirling ever since the re-affirmation of the Josh Smith trade request. Golden State would like Smith, as would other teams, but we here at Peachtree Hoops don't want to see him go and have come up with a number of reasons why it makes sense for Atlanta not to do a deal and keep Josh Smith an Atlanta Hawk.
1. Josh is producing -- really, really producing
Any check of the stats shows it, but it's hard to hear the accolades for Josh when so many people focus in on the negatives of Smith's game.
For players averaging over 30 minutes per game Smith is (all stats courtesy of basketball-reference.com):
- #28 in PER with 19.7
- #10 in Defensive Rebounding Rate with a career high 25%
- #36 in Win Shares with 3.8
- #19 in Steal Percentage with 2.2%
- Tied for #3 in Block Percentage with 4.4%
- #2 in Defensive Rating (behind Dwight Howard) with 94 points per 100 possessions
- #2 in Defensive Win Shares with 3.3.
Just sorting by PER, Defensive Rebounding Rate, Block Percentage and Steal Percentage and putting the thresholds at 19PER, 24% DRR, a Block Rate of three and a Steal Rate of two, only two other names come up along with Josh Smith's: Dwight Howard and DeMarcus Cousins.
So, who exactly is going to provide all of this production if the Hawks send him away?
How does that make the Hawks better today or tomorrow?
2. Rick Sund and Larry Drew aren't interested in the future.
Both are in the final years of their contracts and have everything poured into winning as much as possible right now. Trading Smith for anything other than an upgrade today is the only way they pull the trigger. No deal thus far has proven to be that kind of a deal.
3. Joe Johnson and his big, big, big, big, big contact.
When Sund signed Johnson to his famously extravagant 6 year, 123 million dollar deal two offseasons ago, it was noted here, there and everywhere that Joe would never be able to live up to the last 3-4 years of that deal.
Well, here we are in year two of the deal and while Joe is having a nice season, the purpose of signing him was to keep this core together to win as much as possible with it before Joe began to fall off completely. You don't dump Josh Smith in a deal and get 75 cents on the dollar and also keep Joe Johnson and his millions. The Hawks paid Johnson so they could continue to be playoff relevant. Trading Smith jeopardizes all of that.
4. Now is not the time to trade Smith.
For reasons 2 and 3 above, it does not serve the Hawks franchise or fans to see the kind of deal that might be out there for Smith right now. Does anyone believe that Sund will make a deal that is in the best long term interests of the Hawks right now before the trade deadline? Do you? Care to revisit #3 again?
Josh's trade kicker might cause problems in securing a trade partner as well, but the bottom line is that, should the Hawks ever make a trade with Smith before his contract runs out after next season, they should wait until the offseason to do so.
Why? Well, because for one thing, the whole front office situation could/should be straightened out by then. That is if, you know, Michael Gearon and company are serious about wanting to keep the team. We'll know how serious they are when we see what happens to Sund. Another one year deal for Rick and Larry Drew? Business as usual.
New blood on and off the court? Maybe then the whole 'tearing up the core' can be revisited and better deals may exist as teams have more financial flexibility.
5. Josh Smith is a model Atlanta Hawk.
Homegrown. Multi-talented. Loyal.
On the court? Check out #1 -- That's massive production.
He's never linked to off the court problems. He doesn't trash talk. He loves the organization -- one he has followed for a very long time.
Such a player should be revered in his hometown, right?
Josh Smith, for all of his offseason work and dedication to the team and the game, has not been celebrated, but instead castigated for the warts in his game instead of his overall beauty.
Each year he has tried to improve his game and has overcome many, many critics who said he was limited. Somewhere along the way, the bar for success for Smith went from someone who was the #17 pick in the draft and was awarded the "Most Likely in this Draft to be a Bust" by Jay Bilas on ESPN's coverage of the draft to needing to be as fundamental as Tim Duncan.
I've been guilty of it, too, because what he has accomplished on the court makes us realize there could be even more and we want it for Smith. And in the absence of Josh accomplishing everything we see past what he has been able to achieve.
It's not right. In a town that can pooh-pooh Joe Johnson and his six-time All-Star status and can even poke holes in crowd-favy Al Horford's game, Smith's lack of acceptance should come as no surprise.
This is a city that has never fallen out of love with Dominique Wilkins and always hoped that Josh could capture their hearts like Nique did all those years ago. Wilkins had his flaws, but you always felt he gave every thing he had on the court for the team and the fans loved him.
The people don't sense that from Josh. Josh isn't as confident and self-assured than Dominique was -- heck, those are shoes that few could fill --- They miss that Josh burns to win and that desire is what keeps Smith working hard in the offseason.
This past offseason could have seen Josh go the Shawn Kemp route during the offseason and balloon to an un-athletic weight. Instead Smith lost 20+ pounds in an attempt to persevere this rough schedule and regain some of the hop he felt he had lost the last two seasons.
That Smith can't quite reach Dominique's lofty heights shouldn't be held against him and it should that be the bar set for him either.
Not understanding Smith is no reason to dump him, look past his production or settle for anything less than his honest to goodness value in the market, and no deal mentioned thus far has moved the needle towards that line.
Josh Smith is incredibly productive, a credit to the city and franchise and needs to be kept for the Hawks to win today and tomorrow. The end.