According to Adrian Wojnarowski, the Atlanta Hawks have started to gauge trade interest on forward Josh Smith, and Smith isn’t averse to ending his seven-year stay with his hometown team, league sources told Yahoo! Sports on Monday.
Smith hasn’t requested a trade, but has privately told league friends that the Boston Celtics, New Jersey Nets, Houston Rockets and Orlando Magic are his preferred destinations should the Hawks decide to move him.
“The relationship has run its course,” said a league source with knowledge of the dynamic.
There’s been growing acrimony between Smith and the organization, sources said, largely because of the feeling that Smith has been too convenient of a scapegoat. Smith had one of his most complete seasons for the Hawks, averaging 16.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and 3.3 assists.
Payroll is an issue for the Hawks, too, and Smith’s contract – which has two years and $25.6 million remaining – is an attractive target for management to unload, if, for no other reason, than the five years, $110 million left on Joe Johnson’s deal is far more difficult to move.
The Hawks have looked to identify veteran players near the end of their contracts, sources said, but have had no serious discussions on trading Smith.
“They’re looking for a change,” one Eastern Conference executive said. “They would die to be rid of Joe Johnson’s contract or move Smith, but they won’t give [Smith] away. They want something in return.”
Dwight Howard has been a proponent of the Magic trying to make a deal for Smith, a childhood friend, but general manager Otis Smith is low on assets.
Houston has long been intrigued with Smith, but like Orlando and New Jersey, also probably doesn’t have the right pieces to make a trade. Hawks GM Rick Sund has long coveted Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen – two aging Celtics entering the final years of contracts – but Celtics GM Danny Ainge has yet to show an inclination to break up his core for next season.
Eventhough San Antonio is not one of Smith’s preferred destination, the Spurs could certainly play for his services if the team wanted to.
What are your thoughts? Should the Spurs try to get Smith if he becomes available on the market? Tell us what you think.