Well, If you’ve been following any of the NBA trade rumors, you’d know that Atlanta’s Josh Smith has been a part of trade speculation for quite some time. Most recently, it has been reported that the Washington Wizards have indeed expressed interest in acquiring Josh Smith.
So, is that good news or bad news for us Wizards fans? I’ll give ‘ya the good news first.
Due to their incapability of racking up W’s in the win column, the Washington Wizards have struggled to become a team which attracts decent free agents. Because of that, Washington is essentially forced to look for talent through annual lottery picks, and trades which burden their team financially. Over the past several years, the Wizards have made it clear that they’ve tried to build the team around third year star, John Wall. Wall has struggled to stay healthy this season, but when he is on the court, the Wizards actually look like a decent basketball club. Since John Wall has returned, the Wizards have won over .500 percent of their games, including a recent four game winning streak with wins over teams such as the Los Angeles Clippers, New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets, and Milwaukee Bucks (all of which are slated playoff teams).
A player of Josh Smith’s caliber would probably propel the Wizards atop the Eastern Conference. Washington has made it clear that the core of their team (John Wall, Bradley Beal, Nene) would be untouchable in any trade which would bring Smith to the Capital. So, what would they give up in a trade for Smith? A trade involving Emeka Okafor, who has been one of the most consistent big men in the NBA, would probably need to happen in order to acquire Smith. With that said, Washington would be able to keep their core together, while adding an All-Star caliber player.
Atlanta is currently sitting second in the Southeast division, behind the Miami Heat, so Josh Smith has to be doing something right. Averaging over 17 points and nearly 9 rebounds per game, J-Smoove has been playing at an All-Star level for quite some time. His versatility on offense really gives defenses problems, but his athleticism and defensive capabilities are what probably set him apart from the average NBA forward. Washington has been a top 5 team in terms of defensive efficiency since John Wall has returned to their lineup. Smith would not only improve their defense, but he’d make them an elite level defensive team. At 6’9, Smith is able to play both forward positions, which allows teams to tinker with their lineups quite bit, in order to cater to Smith. As noted, he’s one of the most athletic players in the league and thrives in a transition based offense. With John Wall on the floor, I’m sure Smith would have plenty of transition opportunities. I honestly think that Wall could turn Smith into an All-Star because their games have the potential to mesh very well.
He’s not perfect. Josh Smith is probably one of the most frustrating players in the entire league. As I mentioned numerous times, Smith is an athletic freak. At his size, Smith could probably take most of match ups off the dribble while penetrating to the basket, forcing defenses to inevitably collapse on him. Instead, Smith opts to take ill advised shots, which he doesn’t have the capability of knocking down. Not to mention, Smith’s effort has also been questionable at times. As Wizards fans, we’ve seen our fair share of players walk through the Verizon Center, not giving a valiant effort each and every night.
But that may not even be the biggest problem. After this season, Josh Smith will become a unrestricted free agent, leaving teams with an option of resigning him or letting him walk. If a team trades for Smith, you’d obviously expect them to resign him. The only problem is, Smith may be asking for a bit too much money. After seeing numerous players get over payed during the summer
(so, what was the point of the lockout again?), Josh Smith has made it clear that he wants nothing less than a max contract. After being asked about his market value, Josh Smith stated;
I feel like I’m a max player. I feel I bring a lot to the table. I have a lot of versatility. For what I do and what I give this ball club, I feel like I’m worth it.
Sorry to break it to you Josh, you’re not worth it. In a perfect world, only deserving players should receive max contracts. What constitutes a deserving player? In my opinion, a deserving ‘max’ player, would be a player which has superstar level talent. Sure, Smith is talented, but he’s certainly not LeBron James. Giving Josh Smith a terrible contract would not only further burden the Wizards, but it would absolutely destroy all of their financial flexibility down the road. Not to mention, John Wall will be due for a contract extension in the not too distant future. With Wall being a priority in Washington, the Wizards will be locked up for quite some time. I’m not sure that’s the best thing for a team which has made it clear that they want to rebuild through the draft. Besides, I’d expect Danny Ferry to try to pry away Washington’s upcoming lottery pick in this year’s draft.
So what do you make of it? Is it a good or bad deal?