We are three days away from the date when Andrew Wiggins can be traded for Kevin Love and whatever and whoever else is involved in that deal. It will move Cleveland from contender to frontrunner status and raise the bar for everyone else in the Eastern Conference. That would include the Charlotte Hornets.
That is why in the last few days, several outlets, including our sister site Swarm and Sting, have been touting a possible trade between the Charlotte Hornets and Detroit Pistons to get Josh Smith. Why Josh Smith?
1. He’s Available
The Pistons theory of playing Smith at small forward failed last season, just as it failed for Atlanta before that. The Pistons are three deep in starting frontcourt guys, with power forward Greg Monroe haggling over a new deal with the team. Trading Smith secures Monroe’s position on the team and could open up money to sign him to a deal more to his liking next year if not this year.
2. He Fits
Remember all the things we hoped Noah Vonleh could do in the future? Rim protect? Play off of Al Jefferson? Smith could do those things right now, just not shoot quite well enough. Smith has plenty of confidence to shoot it, you just don’t want him to. Smith is a good defender and can guard bigs and stretch fours. He can shot block, which Al cannot.
So what’s the problem? I am not sure the Hornets benefit enough from this trade. When I pulled out the old NBA Trade Machine by ESPN, the biggest obstacle to trading Smith became obvious. The Hornets would have to trade Gerald Henderson, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, possibly a third player and possibly picks for Smith.
If that trade sounds familiar, it is basically the package I would have offered for Kevin Love earlier this summer. The thing is that the Hollinger analysis that predicts wins shares said that the Love deal would have improved the Hornets by six wins. The Hollinger analysis for the Smith trade says that there is no benefit to the Hornets record by making that trade.
If Smith does not make the Hornets appreciably better, I would rather have the depth offered by Henderson and the potential of Kidd-Gilchrist than three years of a 13.5 million dollar contract. I also would rather avoid the headache of deciding what to do at the small forward. Marvin Williams would be the logical answer, but I feel that the Marvin Williams-Josh Smith tandem has been done before. Ask Atlanta how that worked.
The NBA is an arms race an sometimes teams are prone to overreact to keep up. I would ask the Hornets to be very certain that Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is not a long term answer before making this particular deal.
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