The Hawks' Josh Smith figures to be among the most sought-after free agents this coming summer, particularly with Hawks GM Danny Ferry reportedly already deciding to pass on retaining the mercurial combo forward. And despite some obvious reasons to suggest Milwaukee wouldn't be an obvious destination for Smith, Gery Woelfel writes that the Bucks could also be among the many teams purportedly in the mix for him:
One team that hasn’t been publicly mentioned in the Smith Sweepstakes is Milwaukee, although there are whispers the Bucks are interested. The Bucks are in position to offer the Hawks as good of a deal as anyone for Smith, especially if Jennings or Ellis is involved. Bucks forward Ersan Ilyasova, whom the Nets seriously courted during free agency last summer and are still interested in, could also come into play.
On the one hand, the Bucks should be making every effort to acquire all-star caliber talents like Smith--and make no mistake, bad attitude or not he's better than anyone currently on the Bucks roster. But the notoriously moody Smith would bring baggage no matter where he ends up, and unfortunately Milwaukee seems particularly unlikely to retain him this summer even if they were willing to meet Smith's reported max asking price. In case you've forgotten Smith's assessment of the city of Milwaukee ahead of the 2010 playoffs, here's a quick refresher courtesy of Michael Cunningham of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
"There's pretty much nothing to do," Smith said. "Miami has some really good restaurants. I never really did anything in Milwaukee. I would be happy to just find a restaurant. I'm not bashing the city but I've never actually did anything in Milwaukee so I really don't know what is around there."
By now Hawks PR Man Arthur Triche, seeing where this was headed, had creeped in to try and break up the party. But, Smoove being Smoove ("I don't care!") he wasn't stopping.
Someone picked up on the Noah thread and asked Smith if he'd be taking any vacations in Milwaukee.
"Would you go there?" Smith asked. "Everybody knows there ain't nothing to do in Milwaukee, man. Everybody knows that, (even) the people that live there."
So, uh, that would probably make an introductory press conference in Milwaukee a little tough, eh?
Of course, the possibility of Smith departing this summer will likely limit his trade value across the league, so maybe it's not beyond the realm of possibility that the Bucks could acquire him with the assumption that he's likely gone by July. It'd make for a potentially tumultuous next two months, but like every trade it comes down to what you're giving up vs. what you're getting back.
And even putting Smith aside for a moment, the Hawks and Bucks could have some interesting discussions in terms of potential trades. Atlanta has its own RFA-to-be point guard in Jeff Teague, who doesn't shoot nearly as much as Brandon Jennings, but does it more accurately and may well turn out to be a better value on his next contract because of it. Fellow combo guard Devin Harris has seen his numbers drop precipitously this year in Atlanta, but the 29-year-old Milwaukee native will be an unrestricted free agent this summer and could be a target for the Bucks depending on what happens with Ellis and Jennings. Then there's Anthony Morrow, another expiring deal whose perimeter shooting would be a welcome addition to the Bucks now or later. And don't forget about Kyle Korver, whose similarities to Mike Dunleavy are both a great compliment and a potential road block to fitting into the current rotation.
From the Hawks' perspective, Ellis and Jennings would be obvious talking points, though I'm not sure how much interest Ferry would have in either given he already has Teague and an injured Lou Williams due back next year. Still, that didn't stop Chad Ford from mentioning the Hawks as a potential bidder for Jennings this summer, though that could just be Ford's own speculation. Atlanta has a ton of cap space coming their way this summer, particularly if Smith departs one way or the other, so expect the Hawks to be mentioned as a potential destination for virtually every big name free agent on the market. As an interesting side note, Woelfel also disputes Chris Broussard's report from earlier this week that the Bucks offered Jennings a four-year, $40 million extension last summer, suggesting no formal deal was ever offered. I should probably have an opinion on this, but honestly...whatever.
But while Jennings and Ellis are the Bucks' obvious brand names, Ilyasova might be the more obvious piece to send the Hawks' way. He could slot into Smith's starting power forward position in Atlanta and has a chance at outproducing his contract over the next few seasons, something I'd be less inclined to say about Ellis and Jennings. My guess is the Bucks still view Ersan as an asset given his recent production, but he's also been mentioned as a possible trade chip numerous times.
In short, the odds of Smith in a Bucks uniform seem rather long, and justifiably so. But both teams figure to be active ahead of the trade deadline and have pieces that could be of interest to the other side, which means that if nothing else the Bucks could try to play the role of facilitator in a mult-team deal involving Smith. Atlanta has pieces that might interest the Bucks and vice versa. It's a starting point, even if Smith's future as a Buck would likely play out no better than Gary Payton's. On the bright side, at least the Bucks don't have anyone as good as Ray Allen to throw away.