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The Cyber Josh Smith Trades Begin: Atlanta Hawks' Smith To Phoenix Suns In A Three-Way Deal

Well, it didn’t take very long for the blogosphere to pounce on the Josh Smith to the fill-in-the-blank NBA team and generate their own trade offers for the not-quite-on-the-market Atlanta Hawks power forward.

One of the first "offers" comes from our SB Nation sister site "Bright Side of the Sun."  They proposed a three-way deal with either the Golden State Warriors or the New Jersey Nets that would reunite J-Smoove with his good buddy Josh Childress. 

Under the proposal, Smith would head to the Valley of the Sun, Jason Richardson would go to the Warriors along with Earl Clark and Atlanta would get PG Monta Ellis. Or Richardson would go toil in beautiful downtown Newark for a while with Devin Harris and Clark coming here.

It seems like our friends in always sunny Phoenix may have spent too much time avoiding Snooki’s Obama "tan tax" and may have overexposed themselves in the sun.

Atlanta allegedly needs a point guard to replace Mike Bibby who is a "terrible" lead guard.  Granted Bibby’s numbers are not spectacular, but he doesn’t turn over the basketball and fills the role the Hawks need him to on this team.  His 9.5 assist-to-turnover ratio is the best in the league right now.

Keep in mind that Bibby is under contract for just two more seasons and is looked at as the bridge to Jeff Teague.  Even assuming the premise that Bibby is indeed "terrible," neither deal addresses the Hawks' luxury tax issues.

Proposal 1: Hawks get Ellis

There’s no denying that Ellis is a talented point guard.  He leads the league with an average of 30 points per game thus far this season, which begs the question, do the hapless Warriors want to trade away their best player?

Even assuming that they do, this deal would be like rearranging the chairs on the deck of the financial titanic for the Hawks.  Both Ellis and Smith are under contract for the next two years and Atlanta would shave just $1.4 million in salary off the books next year and $2.2 million in 2012-13.

If the goal is to sign Jamal Crawford and avoid the luxury tax, this deal wouldn’t work.

Proposal 2: Hawks get Devin Harris and Earl Clark

Granted Harris is an upgrade over Bibby, but he comes nowhere close to replacing the overall production that you’d lose with Smith.  Plus, you’d stint Teague’s development by having him third on Atlanta’s depth chart at PG.

Once again, this does nothing to address Atlanta’s short term luxury tax issues.  Harris is locked up for two more seasons and will clear $9.5 million next year. The Hawks would hold a $2 million option on Clark.  If they keep Clark, only $1.1 million would come off of the books next season or $3.3 million if they elect to jettison the second-year former Louisville standout.

Conclusion

I think Hawks fans are starting to get an idea of why much of this Smith-to-somewhere talk is utter nonsense. Unless they make a deal for an expiring contract and a couple of draft picks, it’s very difficult for Atlanta to rid the books of their hometown shot-blocking sensation, reup with Crawford and remain under the luxury tax threshold next season.

If the team wants to avoid the luxury tax next season (and I am not quite convinced that they will do so if the Hawks inch closer to a championship-caliber team), it’s much easier for the team to just walk away from Crawford.  That explains why you do not see GM Rick Sund rushing to the bargaining table to ink a deal with the reigning Sixth Man of the Year.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.