Lakers, Hawks Discussing a Trade Involving Josh Smith and Pau Gasol?
Despite the Los Angeles Lakers’ stated desire not to make any major roster moves this summer, reports continue to claim that they’re actively shopping Pau Gasol. The latest rumor is that there are talks between LA and Atlanta about a possible swap involving Gasol and Josh Smith. Per the LA Times and AJC: “Smith has been unhappy in Atlanta for more than a year, his dissatisfaction starting after the 2010-11 season because he felt he was an unfair target of criticism by coaches and media members. In separate activity leading up to Thursday’s amateur draft, the Lakers are also open to trading Gasol to a team with a high first-round pick because they covet Kentucky freshman Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Atlanta holds the 23rd pick and cannot help in that area. No deals were imminent for the Lakers, who hold only the 60th and final pick in the draft. They have not had a first-round pick since taking Javaris Crittenton in 2007. Last season, Smith averaged career-highs in points (18.8) and rebounds (9.6) for the Hawks. He is only 26, five years younger than Gasol. If the Lakers struck a deal with Atlanta, they would lose the height advantage that made them one of the longest teams in the NBA — Smith is 6 feet 9, three inches shorter than Gasol — but would instantly become more athletic. Smith is an incredibly active defender and has career averages of 1.3 steals and 2.2 blocked shots. Two years ago, he became the youngest player ever with 1,000 career blocked shots. He has one more year on his contract for $13.2 million and becomes an unrestricted free agent in June 2013 unless he signs an extension. The Lakers would also benefit financially from a deal involving the two players: Gasol has two more years and $38.3 million on his contract. It is unclear which player would accompany Smith to the Lakers in such a scenario. [...] And a big caveat is that his report says the Hawks first expressed interest in Gasol after Los Angeles was eliminated from the playoffs by the Thunder, back when Rick Sund was still Hawks GM. The Hawks have since hired GM Danny Ferry, who says he’s focused more on building long term. Gasol turns 32 next week and is owed more than $38 million over the next two seasons. [...] Smith, who can become an unrestricted free agent next summer, first told the Hawks he wanted to be traded after last season and reiterated that desire prior to this season’s deadline. Smith wants to join a franchise he feels is more committed to winning and play in a market with better fan support.”