With the NBA’s trade deadline arriving on Thursday afternoon, the rumor mill surrounding Josh Smith and his future whereabouts has kicked up a few notches in recent days.
Much of the speculation is now stemming from a recent “report” from Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski citing a list of five teams as possible destinations for Smith and a growing belief that Smith will be dealt by Danny Ferry before the deadline. One of the more interesting teams on that list is the Washington Wizards, and, simply because they haven’t been mentioned much before, there is some uncertainty on the potential returns.
First, there has been no full-fledged “rumor” surrounding a package from Washington… because I’m not sure a clear one exists. There two big-time assets are John Wall and rookie guard Bradley Beal, but both of those guys seem to be virtually untradeable and there is no reason to think that Washington give up either piece for a half-year of Josh Smith. That brings us to their 3rd-best trade chip, and that is the fact that Washington owns their own 1st-round pick for the 2013 draft. With Washington currently stuck at a 15-36 record, there is a real possibility that the pick could be of the top-3 or top-5 variety, and that, obviously, makes it extremely valuable. I am inherently skeptical that the Wizards (Ernie Grunfeld, specifically) would include this type of pick, but if they wanted to extend Smith and build around a super-athletic Wall/Beal/Smith combo? It may be worth the risk for Washington.
With the exception of the 1st-rounder, however, I don’t see a real match for Smith as far as Atlanta is concerned. Washington is void of young, cheap assets (outside of Beal) that would be coveted by Atlanta, and their “best” players are saddled with contracts that I’d have to assume Danny Ferry wants no part of. One “rumor” that has circulated the internet would be a package surrounding Emeka Okafor, but he is the exact opposite of what Atlanta would be seeking for Josh. Yes, Okafor is a nice player, and a Horford/Okafor front-line would be defensively fantastic, but he is making over $13 million a year, and his contract is guaranteed for 2013-2014. How is that an improvement? Nene is also a very, very nice piece, but with 3 more years on the massive contract he signed in Washington, Danny Ferry isn’t touching him.
In short, there is a deal to be made here, but it is a virtual certainty that the Wizards’ 1st-round pick would have to be included. Even so, Danny Ferry would have to eat away at the 2013 cap space that he has built, because Washington doesn’t have a single mid-size (or higher) expiring contract to match the Salary for Smith. Washington is certainly not the ideal trade partner for Atlanta, but if you squint hard enough, it seems… possible.