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Yesterday, it was reported that Josh Smith was suspended for one game by the Atlanta Hawks, which kind of was a boiling point for Smith and his agent, who had discussions with Atlanta general manager Danny Ferry. While the agent didn’t request a trade, he seemed to at least hint at one.
Los Angeles and Atlanta reportedly had discussions about a Gasol-Smith swap back in the summer, but the Lakers apparently shot down the proposal.
So, do the Hawks still want Pau? According to CBS Sports, that’s split the opinion of some around the league:
Much will depend on whether Ferry intends to take a win-now approach with a roster that is projected to have a league-high $36 million in cap room next summer, or build slowly with picks and young players. One rival executive familiar with the discussions said Ferry would not be inclined to take on 32-year-old Pau Gasol and the $19.3 million on his contract next season, but another said Ferry is seeking a veteran All-Star in any potential Smith deal.
A veteran All-Star? There’s only a handful of those types of players in the NBA right now – players who can come in and make a difference to a team, at least. Is Pau still capable of doing that? He’d likely play center if he were to ever find himself on the Hawks, putting Al Horford back into his preferred position at power forward, so Gasol would likely be a centerpiece on offense.
Now, the Hawks had a different general manager back in the summer, so their current GM, Danny Ferry, may not have any interest in Pau. On the other hand, ownership could be interested in the Spaniard’s services, as he’d probably help keep them relevant and sell tickets. They may even be the ones who pushed for a Pau trade in the off-season.
I have no doubt that the Lakers would be interested in such a move, seeing as Dwight Howard is a childhood friend of Smith’s – of course, the Lakers want to re-sign Dwight in the summer and having a good friend of his on board would surely help – and his defense and athletic ability is second-to-none, an area where Los Angeles is seriously lacking.
However, Smith will be a free agent in the summer – just like Dwight – and will be looking for a big pay day. The Lakers have been positioning themselves to have a large amount of cap space available in the summer of 2014 when the majority of the current contracts on the team expire – including Kobe Bryant‘s.
Would the Lakers be willing to commit to Smith and Howard longterm instead of hoping to maybe sign a name such as LeBron James or Carmelo Anthony in ’14?
I still see this move as a long-shot, especially with Pau’s inflated contract and poor season so far, but knowing that Ferry wants a “veteran All-Star” in any trade involving Smith makes me ponder the possibility of such a move a little more than it did beforehand.