Josh Smith of the Atlanta Hawks is a target of the Phoenix Suns, according to HoopsWorld.com’s Alex Kennedy. He reports that Phoenix is looking into acquiring the versatile forward before the trade deadline, and if that falls through, the Suns would continue their pursuit into the offseason.
Smith would likely be a max-level player. At the least, he believes he’s worth such a contract. Though Kennedy’s sources tell him the Suns view Smith as a franchise player — wince now — Phoenix could theoretically have enough cash after this year to go after another max contract.
An unrestricted free agent this offseason, Smith’s agent and Atlanta General Manager Danny Ferry met earlier in the year to discuss the future of the team — no trade was requested — and his client’s place with that vision, according to CBS Sports’ Ken Berger.
The two sides are expected to meet this week once again.
Now, it’s a matter if the Suns could work out any deal with Atlanta. Again, the Suns are hampered because they have so few players that would send equivalent value back to the Hawks, and Marcin Gortat could certainly be looked at as a centerpiece in the deal. Phoenix would hope the Hawks would find no better options elsewhere, and in any circumstance, it’s likely trading Smith now would net them less value than Smith is worth — it could be similar to Phoenix shipping off Nash last offseason for picks.
With so many issues being involved in any trade — contracts are another thing — Smith would certainly be an interesting thought as a member of the Suns.
His dissatisfaction with a much better Atlanta squad would make acquiring him before the trade deadline appear to be risky, as Smith could bolt this offseason if he didn’t like the atmosphere in Phoenix.
Plus, appreciation for Smith in Atlanta and even league-wide has been dichotomous to say the least. To find a day where someone didn’t reference one of his ill-advised jump shots would be a miracle. And putting that alongside, say, Michael Beasley would give the Suns two players with widely-recognized skillsets who arguably haven’t gotten the most out of them.
At the same time, the Suns need an elite player. Smith does fit the bill as the same grade of player as an Eric Gordon or a Rudy Gay. Unless you think Phoenix can pull off a blockbuster move to acquire a Dwight Howard in the offseason, that type of player is the likely answer to the current woes. Howard’s role in it all could be an important factor, as well. He and Smith are high school buddies, and should the Lakers center leave Los Angeles in a huff this offseason, expect his hometown of Atlanta to be a draw — Smith may want to wait this season out with the Hawks.
While this is all starting as a rumor, there’s no doubt the Suns are working the phones at this point in time. It’s a solid sign they’re putting their work into making improvements to the roster, but whether Smith and his various inconsistencies are the right answer is up for debate.