The trade deadline is looming, and reports are bubbling from ESPN that the Wizards could be a potential suitor for Atlanta Hawks forward Josh Smith.
Here are the reasons why any trade for Smith seems highly unlikely:
- Who is really doing the asking here? The Wizards, who are fully healthy and 11-8 starting with their upset win over Oklahoma City on Jan. 7? Or the Hawks, who are determined to move a player that will be an unrestricted free agent this summer and wants a maximum contract even though he doesn’t deserve one? Chances are that the Hawks have called, um, 29 teams in the NBA to find out what it’ll take to move Smith.
- According to ESPN’s Chris Broussard, Washington has told Atlanta that the following players are untouchable: John Wall, Bradley Beal and Nene. Again, this sounds like the answer to an inquiry from Georgia, not Ernie Grunfeld picking up the phone. The Wizards don’t have any incentive to change course on their commitment to the No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 draft or the No. 3 overall pick in the 2012 draft. Wall is the franchise cornerstone. Beal is on pace to finish second in the rookie of the year race. Nene was the player that the Wizards traded FOR only a year ago, the kind of veteran big man they couldn’t land in free agency and instead got while simultaneously jettisoning JaVale McGee, who has proven to be every bit as challenging in Denver as he was in Washington. That was a win-win.
- Nene’s contract – $13 million per through the next three seasons – is expensive but not overpriced for his value. To even focus on it misses the transformation that he’s helped the Wizards undergo both on and off the court. His presence at the end of last season and when he first came back in November had an almost mythical value. In the locker room after games, Beal quickly adopted Nene’s habit of offering a quick prayer before he begins answering questions from the media. Kevin Seraphin wants to do everything that Nene does, to the point where he’d grow out his hair into dreadlocks if he could do it quicker. Sure, he’s a diva at times, but the ideas that his contract has a stranglehold over Washington and that the Wizards need to get rid of him just don’t make sense – especially to those who have watched or know the team.
- The last thing that the Wizards need is Smith’s contract situation. They’ve got their own challenges ahead with figuring out what it will be worth to extend Wall. In fact, Smith’s situation would and should make any potential trade partner wary. There are playoff teams that are more likely to take the risk. But the Wizards aren’t a playoff team, and they don’t fit the profile for a team that should have any interest in making this kind of deadline deal.