The NBA trade deadline is rapidly approaching, so you can expect to hear about all types of rumors to come out of the woodworks. Take this rumor of the Atlanta Hawks interest in sending Josh Smith to the Philadelphia 76ers for Evan Turner and Spencer Hawes. Although the 76ers’ reportedly aren’t looking to make any trades, let’s examine the benefits/drawbacks of this deal for both teams, simply for hypothetical purposes.
It’s no secret that the Hawks will probably trade Smith before Thursday’s trade deadline. Smith is a pending unrestricted free agent that will bolt Atlanta after the season. Since Smith is currently making $13.2 million this season and will most likely be seeking more next season, his departure will give the Hawks a ton of cap space to play with. Moving Smith makes the most sense for the Hawks since they aren’t a real contender this season anyway, depending on what they get in return.
Evan Turner would give the Hawks a young, versatile wing forward that is signed for $6.6 million next season before an offer is needed to retain him as a restricted free agent, while Hawes is only owed $6.5 million before hitting free agency in 2014. This wouldn’t be a bad haul for the Hawks.
Trading for Josh Smith makes little sense for the Sixers in season, but would potentially save the Sixers over $13 million in cap space for next season when Smith becomes a free agent this summer and close to $22 million through 2015. As the Sixers are currently on the outside of the playoff picture in the East, they have the freedom to make a move that can yield positive short term results on the court and long-term salary cap relief.
The Sixers could then use that cap space to build for the future around all-star point guard Jrue Holiday and center Andrew Bynum, if Bynum plays well in his return from injury and re-signs with the Sixers this summer. Smith is also a solid player that could thrive when partnered with Holiday and Bynum while giving the Sixers a player that can play the power forward position, something the Sixers are lacking on their current wing-dominated roster.
In terms of impact, I believe this trade would benefit the Sixers more than the Hawks. The Hawks get out of the contract of the underachieving Evan Turner and Spencer Hawes while still bringing in a player talented enough to keep them in the playoff hunt. Atlanta gets a young small forward with potential at an affordable salary. Overall, both teams would be in the same position as they currently are; looking up at the Eastern Conference’s elite.