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Basketball philosophy

Make this trade: Josh Smith (+ Zaza Pachulia, HOU or ATL 1st) for Dwight Howard

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Josh Smith | Atlanta Hawks

Josh Smith | Atlanta Hawks (Photo credit: Basketball Schedule)

The Los Angeles Lakers season is the story that keeps on giving. It’s a reality show, between Kobe’s cerebral bluntness and Howard’s immaturity and inability to stop talking. I don’t believe Howard is the right fit for the Lakers long term. There is too much blood in the water. The heat is too strong and he has proven fragile under it.

But the most likely all-star caliber talent to move this trade deadline is fellow Georgia native and Howard’s former high school teammate Josh Smith. He wants out of Atlanta and they don’t want to give him a maximum contract. Getting assets for him now instead of receiving none when he leaves in unrestricted free agency, is the smart move.

I believe these players should be traded for each other. A trade of Josh Smith, Zaza Pachulia and one of Atlanta’s 1st round picks (they have their own and Houston’s) for Dwight Howard fits.

Why should Atlanta do this? Howard if he can be nursed back to health is a superstar who has led a team to the Finals. He’s the type of star franchises need to compete for an NBA title. The Hawks have been kicking their wheels for some time in the 1st and 2nd round of the playoffs and look to continue to do that if they trade Smith for smaller assets than Howard. If they can get Howard to resign in his home state this summer, they have one of the best frontcourts in the league with Al Horford at PF and Howard at C. Jeff Teague and Lou Williams is a good start to the perimeter scoring needed to compliment them. While it’s a risk to give up a 1st round pick and the assets Smith can otherwise return for Howard when it’s unclear whether he’ll resign, geography and the dose of humility Howard has received in Los Angeles is on their side. There also isn’t a terrific situation for Howard to leave Atlanta for. Dallas isn’t scaring anyone as a Howard poacher. The Houston Rockets are lurking, but Howard was uninterested in the team last summer. Worst case scenario if the Hawks lost Howard to unrestricted free agency, they’d have the capspace to sign a player like Paul Millsap or Al Jefferson to compliment the Horford, Teague and Williams core. It wouldn’t be the end of the world. I believe the Hawks trading Smith for Howard would be a risk they have to take, to give themselves the chance at changing the direction of the franchise the rest of this decade. It gives them a pathway to building a team who can contend for a title if things fall into place.

Why should the Lakers do this? Dwight Howard may be a sexier name than Josh Smith, but I believe having Smith has a few advantages. For one, the Lakers would be heavily favored to resign him. After living in the shadows of Atlanta, I see no reason why Smith wouldn’t embrace the bright lights of the Lakers franchise as most stars do. One would presume there’s a greater probability of Smith resigning in Los Angeles, than there is for Howard – so any risk that comes with taking UFA Smith, is there just as much if they keep Howard the rest of the season. But the main reason I like Smith for the Lakers is fit. Going into next season they play Smith at PF with Pau at C. This is a terrific situation for the latter, at the position he now produces much better at – with a small power forward stretching the floor and giving him space, as Lamar Odom used to do during his best Lakers years. Smith is also a great fit for Mike D’Antoni in the Shawn Marion role as a transition scorer and defender. He makes the Lakers faster and more athletic, which is what they need. I like the chances of the Nash, Kobe, Smith, Pau-led Lakers doing very well next year. They’d have dynamic offense with the skill and IQ of their hall of fame backcourt and post scorer, while Smith gives them a needed athletic boost. The 1st I made Atlanta throw in to this deal, would also help their depth if they chose a productive rookie. Pachulia could also resign as a needed backup C.

Josh Smith may not have the long term upside of Dwight Howard, but if the Lakers want to try and win another title with Kobe Bryant, the best move may be dealing Howard. I really like the idea of simply flipping him for Smith.

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Written by jr.

February 14, 2013 at 9:24 pm

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