The intrigue continues to expand in the Milwaukee Bucks' pursuit of Atlanta Hawks forward Josh Smith, who has been suggested as a major target for the Bucks on the trade market. If anything was going to give the Bucks pause over pursuing Smith, it was sure to be the likelihood--or rather, unlikelihood, of re-signing Smith to a long-term deal. Smith's past comments expressing distaste for the city of Milwaukee, combined with his alleged pursuit of a max contract, made it seem like the Bucks would be a long shot to retain his services even if they acquired him before Thursday's trade deadline.
But according to CBSSports.com's Ken Berger, one of those obstacles is more talk than truth. According to a league source, Smith would not be opposed to signing an extension with the Bucks if he were traded there. The primary motivation is said to be his desire to play with Milwaukee's flashy backcourt. The only problem? Those two guys (Ellis in particular) are rumored to be the primary targets for Atlanta if they're going to part with Smith.
If Milwaukee surrendered either member of its starting backcourt, Brandon Jennings or Monta Ellis, it would diminish Smith's enthusiasm for making a long-term commitment there. And those are Milwaukee's two most dynamic assets in a potential package for Smith.
"Dynamic" even shows up in terms of Jennings and Ellis' trade values!
There are questions for the Bucks either way. Keeping all three guys on the roster going forward would be hugely expensive, considering two of them are reportedly seeking max deals and the third considers himself the equal of Dwyane Wade. It would necessitate shedding salary everywhere else on the roster and make it extremely difficult to keep Larry Sanders beyond his rookie deal. There's also the question of whether such a roster core would actually be any good. All three are inefficient scorers, and Smith's defensive ability, while significant, probably doesn't even eclipse that of Larry Sanders.
On the other hand, they could be content to rent him if the price isn't too steep, keeping their future flexibility intact. Indeed, the whole point might be moot if the Bucks can't put together a package devoid of either Jennings or Ellis. The Hawks certainly have no incentive to accept a lesser haul just because it puts Smith or the Bucks in a "better" position.
Regardless, Berger's report does suggest Milwaukee's options are more plentiful than previously thought. And as a result, I am more terrified than ever before.