NBA / Jun 22, 2011 / 10:30 am

Why The Nets Are A Perfect Fit For Josh Smith

Josh Smith

Josh Smith (photo. Blake Peterson)

Last season there was a lot of hope in New Jersey about the Nets. The team had acquired a bonafide superstar in Deron Williams, Brook Lopez continued to make his way into the conversation as one of the best centers in the NBA, and Kris Humphries emerged as a double-double threat from the power forward position. However, there was one glaring weakness on the Nets’ roster this past season, and that was at small forward.

Last summer, the Nets were one of the six teams in pursuit of LeBron James. When it became clear LeBron was not taking his talents to Brooklyn via Newark, the Nets signed Travis Outlaw hoping he would reach his potential and become a solid starter at the three. Well, Outlaw not only didn’t live up to his five-year, $35 million contract, but he also lost his starting job to a combination of Damion James and Stephen Graham. James showed some promise as a rookie, but a foot injury lingered throughout the season and didn’t allow the Nets to really determine if he was the answer at the position going forward. Graham is a good defender, but has no place in an NBA starting lineup. All three are under contract for this coming season, but none appear to be the long-term answer at small forward, which is why the Nets should pursue the recently shopped Josh Smith.

Smith is an immensely talented player who is only 25 years old and can be a building block for the next five years for the Nets. His athleticism will complement Williams on the break, and D-Will will put Smith in a position to succeed near the basket where he is most lethal. On defense, Smith has become one of the most versatile defenders in the NBA who can defend a multitude of positions. For Avery Johnson, a defensive-minded coach, having a player like Smith on that side of the ball will be a huge benefit.

Some people may say that Smith will never realize his full potential, and his infatuation with his inconsistent jump shot will prevent him from becoming a great player, but that shouldn’t deter the Nets from pursuing him. Smith has never responded as one would hope to his coaches in Atlanta – first Mike Woodson and then Larry Drew – but Johnson has a penchant for helping players realize their potential. This past season, Humphries went from a journeyman afterthought to averaging a double-double. Johnson has a history of helping players maximize their potential including Josh Howard, Marquis Daniels, DeSagana Diop and others as detailed in a NetsDaily blog post last summer.

While Smith will put a dent into the Nets’ cap room and ability to sign free agents this summer, there are really no better options than Smith on the open market that would be able to help the Nets in the way that he could. Some unrestricted free agents the Nets might pursue this summer include Jamal Crawford, Jason Richardson, and a younger guy like C.J. Miles. While Crawford is an excellent scorer, he’s much older than Smith and plays no defense. At the same time, Richardson didn’t have quite the impact in Orlando that the Magic hoped and looks to be on the downside of his career. In regards to a guys like Miles, the Nets will not find a young player around the same age as Smith who will be able to have nearly the impact he would on the team.

The last reason the Nets should trade for Smith is to back up the commitments they have made to Deron Williams about improving the team. If Williams sees that the Nets are willing to go out and add a guy with three years at over $11 million per year left on his contract to the team because it will make them a lot better, then it can only help their pitch to him in the all important Summer of 2012.

In order to make a deal for Smith, using ESPN’s Trade Machine, two trades seem the most likely to work out. The first trade would have the Nets send Outlaw, Jordan Farmar or Anthony Morrow, and Damion James to the Hawks for Smith and Pape Sy. In the second trade, the Hawks would get James, Farmar, Morrow, and Stephen Graham for Smith. The first trade is highly unlikely because the Hawks’ would not want to take on the remaining four years of Outlaw’s contract, especially considering he is essentially a lesser version of Marvin Williams right now. The second trade makes much more sense for Atlanta as they get one of the NBA’s best shooters in Morrow – who can help lessen the blow if Crawford is not re-signed – a promising young player in James, and a serviceable combo guard in Farmar. While none of those three can equal the talent of Smith, they are all young and have affordable contracts which is what the Hawks should be looking to get back if they trade Smith.

So as rumors begin to fly about possible landing spots for Smith over the next few days, there is one team with a star point guard that desperately needs help at the small forward position and would be a perfect fit for Smith. That team is the New Jersey Nets.

What do you think? Would J-Smoove be a good fit with the Nets?

Follow Daniel on Twitter at @dgm591.

Follow Dime on Twitter at @DimeMag.

Become a fan of Dime Magazine on Facebook HERE.

Related Posts with Thumbnails
  • Jon

    This would be great for the Nets. Fills their need for a small forward. Outlaw was the epitome of bad basketball last season. If only there is an amnesty clause in the new CBA, they could get rid of his contract. If there is a GM who could pull of trade like this it is Billy King.

  • H-man

    As a Nets fan (how many are really out there?), I love Marks’ focus and reporting on this franchise. Good analysis, especially the importance of finding pieces to complement D-Will. But I question whether — with the histories of the various head-cases that have come and gone (just start with the “other” Williams, i.e., Marcus, Sean and Terence) — J Smoove is really the answer. But maybe AJ WOULD know how best to harness his talent.

  • DS

    As a Hawks fan, the only way we would send Josh to NJ would be for Brook Lopez or D-Will. Obviously NJ will not trade any of those two, so this proposal is going nowhere.

  • sh!tfaced

    Heck, no need for throw-ins, the Hawks have got a couple of trade exeptions. 2-for-1 Outlaw & Farmar for J-Smoove works.

    http://espn.go.com/nba/tradeMachine?tradeId=3pupaqa

  • Mark

    Agree with @DS, No way the Hawks do either of these deals, they want a centre and some depth for Smith

  • Mike Auf

    One would also hope that Josh could help the Nets push the tempo on the break like the Nets of old. I dont think the Nets got one transition bucket last year.

  • First & Foremost

    Whoa… I think we might have something here. The Hawks are still looking for a 5 to push Horford to the 4. Lopez-Smith swap works for both teams. throw in whatever other pieces necessary.

    The Hawks essentially upgrade the 4 & 5 spot.

    The Nets upgrade the 4 and potentially upgrade the 5. Certain Dime posters went crazy for the idea of Pau’s friendship helping to bring Rubio along. So Smith’s friendship with Dwight could bring Dwight to BK the following year.

    Plus the remaining gaping holes left by the Nets roster would enter them into the Barnes-Sullinger sweepstakes.

  • sh!tfaced

    The hell with “friends”. Lately, that trend usually doesn’t win rings anymore – when “friends” play together.

    KG and Sheed. LeBron/Bosh/Wade. LeBron/West/LeMom. Q-Rich/Wade. Dirk and Nash. Raja and Nash. Stevie and Mobley. Damon and Sheed. Isiah Thomas and Dolan. Eddy Curry and Ronald McDonald.

    If everyone in the league wanted “friends” as teammates then Kobe would be all alone…

  • First & Foremost

    Ha, the friendship part would be more of an added bonus. Imagine the pitch that NJ could make to Dwight.
    New Arena, Media capital of the world, Superstar PG, countless chances to impersonate Avery Johnson, playing with a better power forward, & you even upgrade the stars sitting courtside. You go from Anthony Anderson & Tiger Woods to the Carter’s & Kardashians.

    Kobe won’t be around forever so in a few years who will LA have to let Dwight be the 1B superstar he needs to be.

    Smith-Humphries-Dwight No opposing player would get double digit rebounds.

  • beiber newz

    so is the public making smith out to be lebron-james-lite?

    just wondering.

  • Chris

    Smith’s contract is pretty awful and the Hawks are loaded with those types of deals.

    If the Hawks are looking to move him they aren’t going to be in the driver’s seat as no one else is going to want to absorb that deal without unloading one of their own awful deals. They’ll have to take what they can get.

    If they were to make a deal with the Nets they are most definitely looking at Outlaw coming back. Hence why a deal with NJ is 99% unlikely to be made.

  • heavy d

    @Chris, WHAT? Josh Smith doesn’t have a horrible contract. He’s due to make 12.4M and 13.2M the next 2 seasons. For that you get production on both ends and you don’t have to make a long commitment. He doesn’t turn 26 until December, so he’s not past his prime. Truthfully, he’s been just outside the all-star team the last two years and a case can be made that he should have been on it. What makes that a bad contract? Yes, he gets paid, but he performs. He even shows up in the post-season.

    The Hawks have 2 only truly bad contracts: Joe Johnson and Marvin Williams. They are truly bad contracts. Chris, do a little research before you speak on the Hawks.

  • Sam

    As a Nets fan, I would gladly trade Brook Lopez for Josh Smith. Brook is going to be due for a contract extension soon and some team is going to pay him far more than he is worth.

    Brook is a sweet shooting center who can’t play a lick of defense and cries like a baby. I’d love to be rid of him.

  • Tony

    @Sam,

    Thanks God that you are not the Nets GM. Trade Brook only for DH. That’s it. Not for J-Smoove

  • Jon

    @Sam
    Lopez has been untouchable in all other trade talks the Nets have had (Melo, D-Will). Why in the world should the Nets let him go now for a player of lesser value. I think Smith should be a Net, but he is not worth Brook Lopez.

  • Sam

    @Tony

    This is going to be a funny comment when Dwight Howard isn’t traded to the Nets, Brook Lopez is still here and being paid far more than the 4 million he gets now and the Nets still suck.

  • les grossman

    In what way is Brook a better player than Josh? He is slightly better at scoring and getting to the line. BL is a worse defender, a worse rebounder, and considering where Josh shoots from and where Brook shoots from they shoot about the same percentage from the floor. Oh yeah and consider that Brook has played on nothing but losing teams and Josh has been to the playoffs nearly every year.

    If they would take Brook for Josh what reason would the Nets have to say no?

  • Daniel Marks

    I wouldn’t want to trade Brook for Smith, I think Williams will make Brook into a top 5 center, but if you have core of Williams, Brook, and Smith that could at least contend for a playoff spot next year and with a piece or two be serious contenders in the East

  • Let’s Go Hawks

    The Hawks don’t want to give Smith away….both of the trades are ridiculous trades that give the Hawks nothing but getting rid of Smith. I hate to say it but this article is just plain silly and not up to the normal quality of Dime.

  • Let’s Go Hawks

    I like the idea of a trade article for Josh Smith but at least make the trades realistic

  • blaze b

    for you crazy fans out there… just remember.. Lopez was off the table for Melo and DWill…. why the heck wuld the nets trade lopez for josh smith… lets get a little real here…. the only way Lopez is traded is if the name is Dwight Howard… PERIOD

  • Me

    have any of these Dime trade scenarios ever panned out?

    Just curious.

  • First & Foremost

    Here we go… The Hawks have maxed out. They need to do something because everyone else is getting better around them. The hawks have spent as much money as they are willing to spend but no one on their team can make them any better than they are now. The only option is a strategic step backwards. So they must trade someone for some cap relief. Josh Smith is the odd man out. He is the easiest person to move and the piece that several teams could use.

    I said Brook for Smith but that leaves a huge hole at the 5 for NJ. However, who here think Al Horford is a better 4 than he is a 5? [ME] Atlanta finally beat Orlando because Horford wasn’t matched up with Howard. Brook Lopez is talented enough to push him to the 4. On the flipside for NJ, if you can’t win games you have to at least be exciting and make it look like you are only 1 dominating Center away from a championship. [Role players be damned] The trades in the article are to give Atlanta some cap relief because at no point does Joe Johnson make less money during his contract.

    The Grizzlies took a strategic step backwards a few years ago, got laughed at, but look at them now.

  • Daniel Marks

    @First and Foremost

    I agree 100 percent with your comment, the Hawks are a team that will make the playoffs the next five years but with their salary cap situation and ownership bleeding money (they recently sold the Thrashers cause they were losing $30 million per yr or so they say with the NHL) and no way they can get rid of Johnson.

    So getting Morrow who is a much lesser (but cheaper version of Crawford), a potentially good NBA player in Damion James and a solid combo guard off the bench in Farmar all at reasonable contracts with a maybe a draft pick thrown in isn’t all that bad

  • Sam

    The Hawks will be able to get more for Josh Smith than Morrow, James and Farmar, guys who aren’t impact players.

  • Rainman

    “Brook Lopez continued to make his way into the conversation as one of the best centers in the NBA”

    he rebounded about as bad as Andrea Bargnani, and scored considerably less than him…