Atlanta Hawks Rumors: Houston Rockets and Philadelphia 76ers Targeting Josh Smith

Josh Smith

Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

With free agency beginning on July 1, rumors surrounding the future of Atlanta Hawks free agent power forward Josh Smith have started to pick up steam.

According to Peter Vecsey, NBA columnist for the New York Post, a source told him the Houston Rockets and the Philadelphia 76ers are planning on pursuing Smith once the free agency period begins.

While it is well-known the Rockets covet Dwight Howard, the team will be in competition for Howard with the Hawks, Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers have the advantage of offering a five-year, $117.9 million maximum contract, while the other teams can only offer a four-year, $87.6 million maximum deal.

With the uncertainty around Howard, the Rockets could end up deciding to back out and instead choose to address their bigger hole at power forward. The Rockets also already have a center in Omer Asik, who will be in the second year of a three-year $25.1 million contract.

Even though the Rockets want to improve their team defense, Smith’s up-tempo style could be too much to pass up for their fast-paced offense.

The Hawks have the option to pay Smith more than other teams with a five-year, $97.49 million maximum contract, but appear to be more interested in going a different direction with either Howard or Chris Paul. The Rockets can offer a maximum contract of four years, $72.39 million.

Along with the Rockets, the 76ers also need to address the power forward position. Spencer Hawes was used there this past season, but he’s a better fit as a center.

The 76ers are coming off a season where they attempted the league’s most mid-range jump shots and scored the third fewest points per game at 93.2 points.

To improve their offense, the 76ers hired former Rockets executive vice president of basketball operations Sam Hinkie as their new general manager. With Hinkie, the Rockets attempted the fewest mid-range jump shots and were the second-highest scoring offense with 106 points per game.

In order to help change their offensive system, the 76ers need to add another scoring threat. Smith could be the player their looking for after averaging 17 points and 7.5 rebounds this past season.

Follow A.J. Speier on Twitter @Ajbisons for articles, news, and all things NBA

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