Smith Ready To Emerge From The Shadows



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HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – They’ve grown up and become their own men, traveled very different paths over the course of the past decade or so. But just like they were 25 years ago, Josh Smith and Dwight Howard are shadowing each other.

When they were children, sharing space in the same southwest Atlanta preschool classroom, no one could have figured these lifelong friends would have their lives intertwine the way they have. And that includes everything from being local high school stars and eventually top five prospects in the prep class of 2004, first-round Draft picks (Howard first overall and Smith 17th) straight out of high school and now the top two players heading into the chaotic world that will be the free agent summer of 2013. (Los Angeles Clippers superstar point guard Chris Paul has reportedly bowed out of the NBA’s silly season by alerting teams that he will not entertain suitors and stay with the Clippers.)

Howard is the headliner, the object of affection of his current team, the Los Angeles Lakers, while also sitting atop the wish list of the Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks, Golden State Warriors and the hometown Hawks — Smith’s current team until 12:01 a.m. ET, when they both become unrestricted free agents.

But Smith is finally poised to emerge from the shadow of Howard and other contemporaries who have become All-Stars, franchise and maximum salary players elsewhere. One of the league’s most enigmatic and unique talents, he’s played every single second of his NBA career with the Hawks. Free agency, without restrictions this time around, is his first real opportunity to see exactly where he fits in the league.

And it couldn’t come at a better time for the only player in NBA history to have a career average over 15.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 2.0 blocks and 1.0 steals. That’s right, the only player (go ahead and look it up, there is only one).

Even with his often spotty shot selection — he’s a career 47 percent shooter from the floor, 28 percent from beyond the 3-point line — ¬† Smith should be an analytics All-Star with all of the impressive metrics he’s piled up before his 28th birthday.

He and Howard are the only two players who have surpassed 1,200 points and 100 blocks four times in the past five seasons and Smith is the only player to have accomplished that feat in each of the past four seasons.

Smith joins four-time MVP and back-to-back Finals MVP LeBron James as the only players in the league to log 2,300-plus minutes in eight straight seasons, dating back to the 2005-06 season, showing off durability that has eluded so many for various reasons.

Sure, Howard will remain the top target for the teams that are the biggest players on the free agent market this summer. No other big man ranks where he does, even after his uneven performance for the Lakers this season. Smith, however, ranks right behind him on most of those lists.

But that’s where the connective tissue between them starts to fray. Howard will command a max contract (four years and $88 million on the open market, five years and $118 million were he to stay with the Lakers), while his former AAU teammate Smith is expected to fall into that next¬†tier just below the max.

“I don’t know exactly what his value is to be honest with you,” said a Western Conference executive whose team will not be in the marquee free agent mix this summer. “His production is through the roof when you look strictly at his numbers. No one can argue that he’s a factor, a game changer, when he’s locked in and playing at a high level. He’s still got some rough edges that shouldn’t be there, but you also have to realize that he’s never played with an elite point guard or in an environment where there is some leadership, either in the locker room or beyond, that forced him to smooth out some of those rough edges. That’s part of what makes him so intriguing, even a decade into his career. You’re still not sure if he’s actually reached his ceiling. And in free agency, that’s worth something.”

Before Danny Ainge imploded his roster in Boston, the Celtics were ready to offer whatever it was going to take to get a sign-and-trade deal done with the Hawks, who according to sources have not resigned themselves to parting ways with Smith. He could be an extremely valuable asset in a sign-and-trade deal, but if the Hawks strike out in their pursuit of Howard, are other free agent bigs like Al Jefferson or Paul Millsap better fits with the Hawks?

The recruiting process this time around for Howard and Smith will also be very different. While Howard is reportedly set to entertain suitors in Los Angeles (with the Rockets up first, the Mavericks next and the Hawks, Golden State Warriors and the Lakers getting the last word), Smith will not go through any sort of public song and dance.

“That’s not his style,” said a source close to Smith. “Did you see how uncomfortable he was leading up to the trade deadline? He’s not interested in all of the hype. He wants the opportunity to sit back and evaluate his options and choose his next move wisely. That’s all.”

That could become an increasingly difficult proposition if Howard’s process doesn’t go according to plan. Howard has already said he will have his decision made by July 10, the day the league’s moratorium on players signing new deals ends. If Smith has to wait until then to know exactly what all of his options are, the chatter surrounding him is sure to intensify.

Of course, if a team presents the right package (the big contract along with an opportunity to win at a high level and a much-needed fresh start), Smith could have his decision wrapped up sooner rather than later … sooner than Howard.

“Don’t be surprised if some team comes out of the blue and makes a big play for [Smith] right away, while a bunch of teams are waiting on Dwight to figure out what it is he’s going to do,” said a league source with knowledge of the situation. “It’s free agency, you never know what might happen.”

Whatever happens, Smith and Howard will be linked together in the free agent summer of 2013, the same way they have been at nearly every other milestone moment of their lives.

74 Comments

  1. BEVAN says:

    sign smoove hawks al needs his help down low get zaza too

  2. Annoymus says:

    if dwight howard or josh smith end up wit the cavs that could be playoff teamas long as dion waiters can get a bit better over the off seanson

  3. ether says:

    i see alot of fantasy rosters in yall comments lol.Howard should sign with the rockets OR the lakers should sign and trade dwight to clippers for griffin and bledsoe THEN amnesty gasol and sign josh smith are you folowing me? then lakers would need to get a 3pt shooter and a defensive center

    paul
    crawford
    butler
    odom
    howard

    nash or bledsoe
    bryant
    smith
    griffin
    dalembert

  4. zulu says:

    As a LAKER fan I thought all of the pursuit of Howard was a mistake. Now the LAKERS still want this “mall” baller let him go.

  5. Tradebosh says:

    Any more news on Miami trading bosh yet? With his salary I duno who would want him but u never knw….

  6. Shawn K says:

    I’d like to see Howard and Smith on the Rockets roster. I doubt that they have enough cap space to sign both, but it would be awesome to see. I think Howard will go to Houston because they’re a younger, healthier and are a better fit for Howard. And I see Smith ending up in Golden State(depending on if they trade David Lee). If not Golden State, I can see Smith signing with the Magic. The Magic need a solid PF and defence next to Harris and now Oladipo. Smith will also provide rebounding and a scoring option.

    What are your thoughts people?

  7. Cg1021 says:

    Josh smith would be a perfect fit in Boston it would be lob city with Rondo and Smith!!!! The only problem is that they would lack 3pt shooting.

  8. Go2ThunderSmith says:

    The Thunder needs ya to replace perk! J-Smoove to OKC=Championship!

  9. AndSoWhat says:

    Only a guess… But put J-Smooth together with Brandon Jennings alongside Dirk at Dallas and I think you get a “small” Big3 that can go deep in the Playoffs for the next 2-3 years with a chance for the championship!

  10. Joshua Greenfarb says:

    Chris Paul is going to test FA market. It’s officially July 1st Eastern Time. Paul still hasn’t re-signed. His “reps” may have stated he will. Paul, however, hasn’t signed anywhere yet. Apparently, he hasn’t stated himself what his true intentions will be this Summer.

    He has not bowed out of the FA market. Sekou Smith is obviously an LA fan and wants Paul to stay; however, Paul hasn’t signed anywhere yet. Paul hasn’t stated/alerted what his intentions are as it pertains to where he will go this Summer.

    • Joshua Greenfarb says:

      CP3 purposely signed a contract that would make him a FA this summer. He went through that so he could test the FA market, and he will. He didn’t plan that out just to not test the market as planned!!!

  11. Joshua Greenfarb says:

    If Paul is SMART, he will test the FA market. He might re-sign, anyway. However, I would not be surprised if he leaves LA, either for more money OR for NBA Championships with the Thunder.

    Signing Doc Rivers might not have been a very good move. The Clippers may be paying Rivers too much. Good luck re-signing Paul now.

  12. Craig says:

    Is everyone just forgetting about Monta?

  13. CelticsLover15 says:

    Boston would be a good fit along with Rondo and Green

  14. jackson says:

    JOSH SMITH , comes to lakers!

  15. Winnerchance says:

    Iggy comes to the Lakers for SF…man like wow! but Cap space problem

  16. Steven says:

    I think he should go to the pelicans think about this line up pg jrue holiday sg Eric gordan sf josh smith PF Anthony Davis Center for now robin Lopez

  17. B Radd says:

    Dwight would also fit in Cleveland. That team can make a sudden leap well into the eastern conferance finals with D12 on that roster

  18. Kimmy says:

    I’m tired of guessing. I’m waiting for the horses’s mouth to talk.

  19. To the rockets!!!! And the line up for the 2013-2014 are pg Jeremy Lin sg James Harden sf ?pf Josh Smith c DH!!!

  20. DH12 fan says:

    LMFAO THEY CHANGED THE BLOG!! ABOUT THE SMITH KAREEM AND DUNCAN THING!!!!!

    • FLuke says:

      when i read the first posting of this article, i immediately thought of the names that were left out of the mentioned stat line. i guess the writer was too caught up with the miami heat big three he failed to remember that there were other players in this league capable of putting up such numbers

      at least he edited his post

  21. JerrellJohnson says:

    Dwight Howard Josh Smith Andre IGuodala Atlanta Hawks

    • Poppajamal says:

      I really that would be a good lineup and maybe a good two monta Ellis tyreke Evans ie I’m just saying lets keep up wit everybody else right

  22. dasfonzie says:

    Josh Smith or Andre Iguodala would be a great fit for Kyrie and the Cavs

  23. danny says:

    josh smith can’t even hit free throws. he should go to miami heat and get an easy championship as a bench player

  24. Rsmith says:

    I think the cavs would be a great fit for J.Smith and the could get rid of Varejao

  25. c'mon now says:

    i think lakers should amnesty pau gasol so they get rid of that large salary. then they should sign josh smith

  26. Balling Expert4 says:

    If Boston are able to acquire Josh Smith or either Preferably Dwight Howard and are able to Keep Rondo in Boston then Boston can get off to a good start in rebuilding process with not a great but strong “Big 3″ in Rondo,Wallace,Howard.If they cant get Howard go for Smith, Have a “Big 3″ in Rondo at point Wallace at SF and Smith at PF aswell start Kelly Olynyk at Center if they are able to do this they can be right back in the playoff race first year after losing Doc, KG and pierce.

    HOW I SEE IT.

  27. realist says:

    AL HORFORD IS AS GOOD AS JOSH SMITH Bhot avredge 17.5 ppg but horford is a better rebounder 10.2 per game
    and shoots a higher percentage 54 fg%
    my point is al horforf is EXTREMELY underrated

  28. shawn says:

    Release Howard and sign Josh smith to a max deal he has wayyy more potential of being a mvp caliber than howard and provides scoring

  29. Bajka says:

    I went ahead and looked. Beside KG and Pau i found Wilt, Webber and Barkley. Probably there are few more guys from the 60s and 70s.

  30. Basketball Newbie says:

    Player REB AST PTS

    Tim Duncan – 11.2 3.1 20.2
    Pau Gasol – 9.2 3.3 18.4
    Josh Smith – 8.0 3.2 15.3
    Kareem Abdul Jabbar – 11.2 3.6 24.6
    Karl Malone – 10.1 3.6 25.0
    Kevin Garnett – 10.5 3.9 19.1
    Larry Bird – 10.0 6.3 24.3
    Wilt Chamberlain – 22.9 4.4 30.1
    Bill Russell – 22.5 4.3 15.1

    Did i miss someone?

    Come on Sekou! Only 3???? Duncan’s career average is only 3.1!

  31. Antoni Navarro says:

    I think Iguadola is great Player match any team, Howard would like to remain in Lakers, so lakers have options to get championship, and Joe Smith for any team which needs to speed the game, and plays with rebound and needs fast counteratak! is OK!

  32. Drago says:

    Best thing to do is ignore this articles and ignore news until the deadline.

  33. charles says:

    There is a huge difference between Howard and Smith. Howard was able to take Orlando to the finals with very little support – like Lebron did in Cleveland. Smith is not the kind of player to do that. I mean I’m not a big fan of Dwight Howard as a person – the guy must have some serious insecurity issues to need so much attention constant affirmation that he’s wanted. But even with those feelings, I would trade practically anybody in the Timberwolves to get him. Anyone with any brains would trade ANYONE in their team not named Lebron Freaking James to get him. He’s an amazing talent. Smith is a great talent, but you will not win the championship if he’s your best player. Howard has already been to the championship game and he WAS the best player on that team.

  34. Matt says:

    Andre iguodala would be a good fit for the lakers

    • GoodOne says:

      Too bad we don’t have cap space for him. We’re bringing back guys like Farmar and Barnes. And, adding hopefuls like Copeland from the Knicks who don’t put the lakers over the cap in luxury taxes penalties. Andre is looking for top salary that Lakers can’t afford to offer him. Howard is their top priority, now…

  35. bigmonimaker says:

    I hope J Smooth remains a Hawk. Good luck

  36. The Truth says:

    I went ahead and looked it up like you suggested and both Kevin Garnett and Pau Gasol match those averages. Those were the first two to come to mind, I’m pretty sure there were others as well. So… fail?

    • dorian says:

      2.0 Blocks 1.0 steals

    • Really? says:

      KG has 1.5 Blocks per game – not 2.0. Pau has 0.5 steals and 1.6 blocks per game. Overall, you didn’t actually think to look at the whole stat line..

  37. maurice says:

    send that man to the lakers

  38. mickyd1 says:

    BULLS BABY!!! Chicago needs to get real and give rose a tru superstar to solidify their squad and give Chicago a real shot at the title….with bk beefing up their team with kg and the truth…ship out boozer and deng and maybe a couple of draft picks…GET IT DONE!!!!!!!!

  39. Esteban says:

    The Heat need to make a bold decision soon. They beat the Spurs in one of the hardest Finals in history, but they are not invincible. They need a real big guy, or at least somebody more aggresive than Bosh. Bosh for Smith (plus a bench player, or a draft selection) would be a great addition to t he Heat.

  40. AJ says:

    it would be great if the knicks would trade amare & felton + X for rondo!! and then get Josh Smith as free agent.. it would be ideal for the knicks and then there would finally be a team that could stop the HEAT. it sounds weird but if this would happen i think the knicks can beat miami

  41. kevin garnett says:

    kevin garnett?

  42. So, I looked it up. KG ppg: 19.1 apg: 3.9 rpg: 10.5
    Unless I read it wrong, it looks like there isn’t only 3 players who have achieved those career averages.

  43. Kyle says:

    Hope dwight doesn’t take a shortcut and signing somewhere else besides the Lakers. He just needs to work harder. He will lose respect if he signs elsewhere

  44. underdog says:

    Smith or Iguodala will be good fits for the Twolves since Kirilenko has opted out, that is if their in for a year of chemistry development.

    I also think Iguodala will be a good fit for the Spurs if they don’t resign Manu or if Manu re-signs for a veteran minimum.. Iggy can be their secondary playmaker if Parker is on the bench

  45. Renay Austin says:

    I suggest he join the Miami Heat!!!

  46. ChrisEdge says:

    What abbout Pau? 18,4 ppg 9.2 rpg 3.3apg

  47. lol says:

    i like josh smith but what i dont like for him its his shot selection and sometimes hes very inconsistent