HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Surely guys like Andre Iguodala, Pau Gasol and Josh Smith remember their respective Draft week fondly. They were all first round picks, with Iguodala and Gasol being Lottery picks.
Short of a championship, precious few moments during a player’s NBA career carry the same sort of cosmic feeling than hearing their name called on draft night by NBA Commissioner David Stern.
All of those veteran names have been in the news this week for different reasons. All of them have been mentioned prominently in various trade rumors, with Smith’s name being the latest to pop on the radar.
It’s no secret that the Hawks have been talking to other teams for months, since the February trade deadline, trying to gauge his trade value. But now with Draft night just days away, the chatter is heating up again, per our main man Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports:
The Atlanta Hawks have started to gauge trade interest on forward Josh Smith, and Smith isn’t adverse 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.
Complicating matters for the Hawks is the fact that they know they will be hard pressed to receive anything close to equal value for a player like Smith, whose warts have been well documented but who also brings a unique blend of skills to the party as well.
Even more interesting is this teams mentioned as possible suitors for Smith, were the Hawks to finally get to the point where they are actually talking about making a deal:
“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.
Good draft or not, if the trade chatter turns into something real by Thursday night we’re going to have some fireworks either way.