After reading Prada's piece "Lessons from the Finals", three parts stood out to me, spending money, no lateral moves, and waiting for that "meatball pitch" deal. A rumor has popped up on the internet the last couple of days that I think could fit the bill. The Hawks are looking to trade Josh Smith and I think the Wiz should explore their opportunity.
Now, I can't say that I know what the exact deal I could propose would look like, but forgive me because I've done some reading and I'm really confused as hell about how the $6 million trade kicker for Josh Smith and Etan's kicker would figure into the formula. But I do have some ideas as to what type of situation the Hawks face and how the Wiz can be an enticing trade partner. I also think we have enough ammo so that we could do a deal without sending Jamison or the #5.
First, I think the Hawks made a panic move last year when they matched the offer sheet on Smith and now they regret the move. Bibby, Marvin Williams, Flip Murray, Zaza, and Josh Childress are all free agents. Smith's contract is a major roadblock in these players returning to the team. While some may think that it's as simple as re-signing Bibby for a strong starting lineup, the Hawks would literally have no bench and have no flexibility to grow beyond a lower level playoff team. Between Joe Johnson, Smith and Horford, Smith is by far the most expendable piece. The Hawks would have no problems finding takers, but no one wants to take on the trade kicker. My question is what can you really get in return for a talented, 23 year old PF with mood issues and a $6 million kicker?
There are three appealing pieces in NBA trades, quality vets, prospects, and expiring contracts. With the trade kicker and no real other assets to entice another team, the Hawks are not going to be able to get an All-Star caliber player for Josh Smith. To me, this takes Jamison off the table of a deal because Jamison has a shorter contract and is a more stable, steady contributor. With the economic client and the approaching summer of 2010, what team would really offer a solid veteran for Josh Smith and his long contract unless they are fleecing the Hawks. Considering the Hawks situation, the best thing they can do is shoot for prospects and expiring contracts. That way, they can hope for prospects to emerge and maybe have the flexibility to be a player next summer with Smith's contract no longer on the books.
The Wiz become a player because we have cheap prospects, two expiring contracts and veteran role players to fill out any deal and add to the Hawks depth. There are other teams that have expiring contracts and prospects, but the Wizards are different because we are one of the only teams that I can think of with expendable prospects. A team like Memphis or Oklahoma City or Minnesota may be able to make a run at Smith, but they most likely would have to break up part of their core to make it happen. On the other hand, we have prospects with playing experience and small contracts at every position. The reason, that I also feel that we would not have to give up the #5 is that none of the teams picking ahead of us would likely give up their pick as part of the deal since Josh Smith's personality is such a gamble, his contract is long and has a big kicker. As far as other 1st round picks, would Atlanta really want a pick after the top 5 in a weak draft. Without including the draft pick, we could still send 1st round players to Atlanta.
I would imagine that the Wiz would be appealing because we can offer expiring contracts, one of which is a PG that would give the Hawks some flexibility and leverage in re-signing Bibby. We can also offer a young, bigger, cheaper replacement big man in Blatche. Blatche can also play center unlike Smith. Whether starting or coming off the bench behind Zaza, this allows Horford to move to his natural position of PF. I would also imagine that Crittendon would be appealing to Atlanta, even more so than Nick Young since they have Joe Johnson. Since he is a Georgia Tech product and can come off the bench behind Bibby, the Hawks can groom their PG of the future. I would imagine that we could send Crittendon, Blatche and expiring contracts that would be more appealing than most offers the Hawks can get from any other team.
I think this makes sense for the Wiz because we lose our expiring contracts, but upgrade our young players by swapping Crittendon and Blatche for #5 pick and Smith. Smith bring an offensive skillset similar to Jamison and a much stronger defensive game. This move would allow us to keep Jamison and allow him to play the Lamar Odom/Manu role as the lead scorer off the bench. The presence of an accomplished coach like Flip, a tutor in Jamison, three All-Stars, and an NBA champion in Sam Cassell should be enough to keep Josh Smith's attitude in check. Even though we bite a financial bullet, this move can take the Wizards where we want to be. You saw how potent the Atlanta big three were, but they didn't have the veteran leadership and savvy of the Wizards or the coaching.
The Hawks have to make a move immediately if they are going to do something. If they wait around, they will lose a lot of their free agents after July 1. This is exactly the opportunity that comes along rarely to get a huge talent at a discounted price. It's just a matter of who has the balls to jump on the deal.
I hope I don't get killed on this one, but at the same time, I've seen crazier speculation. What do you think? And if anyone understands the kickers, what would a deal look like?