USA TODAY Sports
With the market on Josh Smith reportedly cooling, have the Wizards vaulted further up the chain in the sweepstakes for his services? Or have they themselves also dropped out?
UPDATE at 12:55 p.m.: USA Today's Jeff Zilgitt reports the Wizards have actually dropped out of the Smith sweepstakes.
Whatever interest the Wizards had in Smith has disappeared, and Washington is not willing to give up any of the players Atlanta seeks for Smith, a person familiar with talks between the two teams told USA TODAY Sports.
We know that the Washington Wizards are one of several teams involved in the Josh Smith sweepstakes, but are they actually one of the front-runners? That's the indication a couple national reporters gave early Wednesday morning.
First, David Aldridge of NBA.com:
League sources list Milwaukee, Washington, Brooklyn as most diligent on Josh Smith, but Danny Ferry keeping cards close to chest...— David Aldridge (@daldridgetnt) February 20, 2013
Second, Steve Kyler of HoopsWorld and USA Today Sports.
RT @jmoney400: Where is Josh Smith headed? ---> Milwaukee, Brooklyn and Washington lead the chase.— Steve Kyler (@stevekylerNBA) February 20, 2013
Previous reports suggested the Wizards would not trade John Wall, Bradley Beal or Nene in a deal for Smith, and I believe those reports. However, the market on Smith is reportedly cooling, as teams are reluctant to trade too much for an impending free agent given his expected price tag. If that's indeed the case, the Wizards' likely offer of spare parts for Smith becomes a little more attractive.
What could a deal look like? The Wizards could send Emeka Okafor or Trevor Ariza over to help match salary, then add in any combination of their younger players not named Wall or Beal to make this work. They could also throw in next year's first-round pick, though I'd want and expect them to protect that verrrry heavily if they even put it on the table. Then, they can brace themselves for Smith's free agency and try to work a reasonable, non-five-year maximum deal out over the summer.
It's doable, and it would certainly improve the team's talent base, but it'd also jam up the team's payroll. Is Smith worth it?