The Atlanta Hawks inched closer to Thursday's 3 p.m. trade deadline more determined than ever to trade Josh Smith, according to sources with knowledge of the Hawks' thinking. They've still got to find a suitable trade partner, though. The consistent word circulating in front-office circles late Wednesday was that Atlanta has yet to find a deal it likes for Smith in a down market, despite the determined pursuit of the Brooklyn Nets and consistent (but conditional) interest from Milwaukee and Boston. The Nets, sources say, will continue Thursday to search for a third team to help facilitate a deal for Smith, since Atlanta has made it clear that it wants no part of Kris Humphries. Milwaukee would appear to be the most likely destination for Smith entering deadline day, but it remains to seen whether the Bucks will ultimately be willing to part with guard Monta Ellis, whom Atlanta has targeted as the primary player it wants from them. As for Boston: Including Paul Pierce or Rajon Rondo in any deal with the Hawks is presumed to be the only way for the Celtics to land Smith, which is problematic for the Celts for a number of reasons. Focusing on just two of them: 1) Trading Pierce somewhere he doesn't want to go isn't nearly as easy as it sounds given what PP's stature is in his city and with that franchise; 2) Boston's chances of getting Atlanta's unrestricted free agent-to-be to sign for the long term there would almost certainly be damaged if Rondo, one of Smith's best friends, wasn't still there to team up with him. As of late Wednesday, sources close to the situation said that Atlanta hadn't yet found a deal it particularly likes and was still holding out hope that either offers will improve or that previously uninterested teams, such as Houston, would change their minds in the final hours of trade season. Yet sources stressed that the Hawks do remain eager to part with Smith and went into Thursday expecting to move him by day's end to the team offering the best deal that won't hurt their long-term financial flexibility. Atlanta, of course, is determined not to let any trade it makes Thursday affect its planned summer pursuit of Dwight Howard in free agency in July. The Hawks, as a result, figure to attract more attention than anyone on deadline day. Especially with most rival teams increasing expecting the Clippers and Jazz to stand pat no matter how much we've talked about Eric Bledsoe, Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson possibly moving.
Latest on Josh Smith talks
ESPN | Feb 21