The Brooklyn Nets are making a concerted effort to acquire Josh Smith from the Atlanta Hawks, according to ESPN.com’s Chris Broussard, calling Smith a “top priority.”
Smith, one of the more athletic players in the league, would fill an immediate need for Brooklyn — its serious dearth of athleticism and lack of a starting-quality power forward. Nonetheless, Smith is in the midst of a down season, averaging 16.9 points and 8.5 rebounds per game on 45.1% shooting from the field. He is producing 94 points per 100 possessions, easily a career-worst, has his highest turnover rate in five years, and shooting more three-pointers than at any point in his career despite a pedestrian 32.4% rate from outside.
Still, there’s no question that Smith has the potential to be one of the league’s best power forwards, which is what makes him such an attractive option. He will be an unrestricted free agent after this season, though any team that signs him will have the ability to give him one extra year and roughly $25 million more than any other suitor.
It’s unclear what assets the Nets could possibly give up for Smith — Kris Humphries makes roughly the same amount, but has a contract one year longer and is hardly an asset strong enough that you’d imagine the Hawks would pull the trigger, even with draft picks and prospects attached. Broussard did not mention any potential assets the Nets could use to acquire Smith.
Atlanta Hawks GM Danny Ferry and Nets GM Billy King, both Duke graduates, are friends, and orchestrated the trade over the summer that brought Joe Johnson to the Atlanta Hawks for Anthony Morrow, Jordan Williams, Jordan Farmar, DeShawn Stevenson, and draft picks.
UPDATE: From Broussard’s story on ESPN.com:
The Nets are willing to give up Humphries and second-year shooting guard MarShon Brooks for Smith. But it almost certainly will take more than a Humphries-Brooks combination to pry Smith away from Atlanta, and one source said the Hawks want Brooklyn’s first-round pick.
Some scenarios that have been discussed include the Hawks’ Anthony Morrow, who played the past two seasons with the Nets, returning to the club.
ESPN.com’s Marc Stein reported Saturday that the Hawks want a young center in return for Smith.
The Nets may have to get a third team involved to pull off a trade for Smith.
Regardless of what the ESPN story says, the Nets could not take Morrow back in any deal, due to a clause in the CBA that states a player cannot be traded back to a team within one year of that team trading him away.
Read More: ESPN — Sources: Nets covet Josh Smith