Atlanta’s love-hate affair with Josh Smith may finally be coming to an end. Reports are that the Brooklyn Nets are aggressively trying to put together a trade for the Atlanta Hawks’ star forward. Sometimes a team hates to see a star leave a team, but in cases like this, it might be best for both sides.
Reportedly, the Nets are looking to deal forward Kris Humphries and second-year shooting guard MarShon Brooks to Atlanta, although a third team may have to get involved for the deal to be completed. Atlanta is also reportedly looking for Brooklyn’s first round draft pick and a young center to make the deal attractive enough to give up J-Smoove.
Heading to Brooklyn would reunite Smith with his teammate of seven years, Joe Johnson, and would give the Nets some explosiveness at the power forward position that Humphries lacks.
Regardless of what pieces come and go, it’s clear that Josh Smith’s time in Atlanta has run its course. Smith is an exciting player, who can wow fans with thunderous dunks and strong moves in the post, but at times tries to play outside his comfort zone for no reason, throwing up long jump shots and three-point attempts that can look awkward, and even ugly.
The biggest knock on the Atlanta native during his nine seasons with the Hawks has been his inability to truly step up as a team leader. When things are going well, Smith helps to carry the team with his charisma, but when the Hawks find themselves in the midst of a slump, Smith’s reputation has been to shrink from the occasion and even complain and point fingers openly.
Smith is an unrestricted free agent after this season, and has stated quite clearly that he believes himself to be a max contract player. Unfortunately, Hawks GM Danny Ferry doesn’t share the same view of his value to the team. This was going to be a make or break year for Smith in regards to his contract, and with spotty play and one team enforced suspension already this year, it would appear Atlanta is going to turn the page and continue rebuilding with a new nucleus.
It’s obvious watching Smith play that he’s just not happy with his current situation. He doesn’t truly have the makeup to be a team leader in the locker room, or even on the court at times. His demeanor is often that of someone who is pouting or sulking. There are guys who play with a chip on their shoulder, and it helps to make them a stronger part of the team, but in Smith’s case, it’s simply viewed as narcissism and selfishness.
Watching Smith develop over the past nine seasons has been painful at times. You see a player with unbelievable talent and unlimited potential simply flatline year after year. Just when it seems he has turned the corner and “grown up”, Smith will inevitably do something to reaffirm the belief that he is a problem player, or even uncoachable.
The Hawks may not be able to fully replace the numbers that Smith brings to the table in terms of points, rebounds and defense, but the perceived attitude problems that come with J-Smoove might be worth a slight reduction in production in the eyes of Ferry and the Hawks brass.