By Ben Golliver
The list of teams vying for Hawks forward Josh Smith is reportedly narrowing in advance of Thursday's NBA trade deadline.
Reports have linked Smith to a number of other destinations in recent days. Earlier this week, USA Today Sports reported a list of suitors that included those three teams plus the Celtics, Clippers, Spurs and Wizards. CBSSports.com also reported a list that included the Suns, Bucks, Nets and Celtics. ESPN.com reported a list that included the Nets, Bucks and Celtics with the Suns "appear[ing] to be out... of the sweepstakes."
Here's a look at the potential packages involved in the trade scenarios and their pros and cons.
Yahoo! Sports reports the following package from Brooklyn.
The Nets are trying to make a deal for Smith, too, and have offered Kris Humphries, MarShon Brooks, and either a future first-round pick or the draft rights to Croatian Bojan Bogdanovic, sources said.
A similar package first surfaced back on Feb. 11.
Pros: A young prospect with some promise like Brooks and a pick should be top priorities for the Hawks. Humphries would represent a productive replacement at power forward for Smith, who will leave a gaping hole if and when he departs.
Cons: Humphries' salary for next season is $12 million, far more than he's worth. Taking that contract back cuts into Atlanta's flexibility this summer, although he becomes a reasonable trade piece next season because he will be an expiring contract.
CBSSports.com reported a possible package from Milwaukee.
If Milwaukee gets involved in a larger deal involving Smith or one of its own starting guards, Jennings or Monta Ellis, one valuable piece who could be added to the mix is Luc Mbah a Moute. Teams like his defensive versatility, rebounding and a reasonable contract that declines from $4.8 million this season to $4.4 million in 2014-15, which coincides with the NBA's next big free-agent frenzy.
Pros: Assuming Jennings is not included in this deal, which he shouldn't be, acquiring Ellis would offer the possibility of flexibility this summer as he can opt out to become an unrestricted free agent. Mbah a Moute is a fine piece but nothing to write home about.
Cons: The Hawks would ideally find a way to get an additional younger asset and/or pick(s) in a Smith deal. Ellis' shooting inefficiency cuts deeply into his value as a player and he's not a long-term fit in Atlanta with Lou Williams already in the fold (although he's currently injured).
Phoenix has been linked to Smith in a package that would involve center Marcin Gortat.
Pros: Gortat is a solid starting-caliber center on a reasonable contract that ends after the 2013-14 season. He would be immensely flippable in a future deal and he's the best single piece included in these scenarios. His $7.7 million salary next year would cut into the Hawks' flexibility, but he's a liquid asset. Phoenix has an extra first-round pick this year that they could include to sweeten a package and space under the cap to make a trade easier for salary matching purposes.