With the Suns struggling at 16-30 (one game out of last place in the Western Conference), the team is now setting their sights on acquiring an all-star caliber player via the trade market to come in and (hopefully) help right the ship.
The Suns are very interested in Smith and have had exploratory talks with the Atlanta Hawks about the 27-year-old forward. Phoenix views Smith as a franchise player who can be one of the cornerstones of the team for years to come. The Suns have been searching for a face of the franchise since Steve Nash’s departure last summer, and Smith could be exactly that. If the Hawks decide it’s time to part ways with Smith, the Suns will be one of the teams on the phone.
Marcin Gortat (11.6 points, 9.0 rebounds) is the main name being thrown around as someone the Hawks could receive in a potential deal. A frontcourt of Gortat and Al Horford would certainly be one of the biggest and most intimidating in the entire conference.
If the Hawks are looking to save some money over the summer, then the expiring contracts of Wes Johnson, Jermaine O’Neal, Sebastian Telfair and Shannon Brown (2013-14 is non-guaranteed) could prove valuable.
Phoenix also holds three first-round picks in this summer’s NBA Draft. They have their own, a pick from the Los Angeles Lakers that they acquired in the Steve Nash deal, as well as one from the Minnesota Timberwolves in the Wes Johnson trade. All three teams currently find themselves out of the playoff race, so anywhere from two to all three of those picks could wind up in the lottery.
Smith can become an unrestricted free-agent this summer. If the Suns trade for Josh and re-sign him, they can still have over $20 million left in cap space to spend on another big-name talent if need be.
In a recent interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Josh discussed why he should be considered a “max player”.
“I feel like I’m a max player,” Smith said Friday. And yes, that is the first time he has said that.
“I feel I bring a lot to the table. I have a lot of versatility. For what I do and what I give this ball club, I feel like I’m worth it.”
Smith again: “There shouldn’t be any hesitation. I’m Josh Smith, I’m not anybody else. I ‘m not Michael Jordan, I’m not LeBron James, I’m not Brook Lopez. I’m Josh Smith. You can’t look at what might’ve happened with another person. Let’s say Joe [Johnson]. You can’t say, ‘I’m skeptical of giving another person that’ because of whatever they feel like happened.”
On the season, Smith averaging 16.8 points, 8.4 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 2.2 blocks a game.
With Josh becoming increasingly frustrated with the Hawks, it seems like the wise decision would be for Atlanta to deal their leading scorer before he has the opportunity to walk this summer.