Josh Smith is the winner of the 2013 NBA He's Totally Getting Traded By The Deadline award. Consensus is building around a reality in which J-Smoove has been freed from his ATLien shackles and moved to the Celtics, the Bucks, the Nets, the Wizards, the Cavaliers, the Timberwolves -- somewhere.
But what exactly is a time trading for Smith getting, and will he be worth both whatever that team gives up to get him plus the contract he's expecting in July? Remember, Smith will be a free agent on July 1. He has said he's looking for a max deal. Given his time of service, Smith will be eligible for an estimated five-year, $97.5 million deal by the team that trades for him, assuming the league's salary cap rises as expected. (That team, however, would have some pretty amazing leverage thanks to the new collective bargaining agreement: Smith would only be eligible for an estimated four-year, $73 million contract from another team. So in theory, the team that trades for him and his Bird rights could hardball him into an $85-90 million deal over five years.)
So there are two levels here: the cost in assets to get him, and the cost in lost opportunity to sign him long-term. We have no clue what will be enough to land him in a trade. Some reports and common sense indicate the Hawks would want either young prospects, draft picks or a cheaper young star in a trade. Cheaper young stars don't get traded for Josh Smith at this point. So we're looking at young prospects, draft picks and enough expiring salary to match. The Hawks project to have a bunch of cap space -- Al Horford, Lou Williams and John Jenkins account for less than $20 million, and the cap should be around $60 million. Jeff Teague needs to get paid, unless Atlanta aims elsewhere. Because of that flexibility, the Hawks could trade for a slightly expensive youngish star (Danny Granger, if only he were healthy). But the more likely scenario is to make talent acquisitions after Smith is gone. That'll allow a greater choice.
Is Josh Smith worth it?
SB Nation | Feb 19