Dime Magazine has recently printed a story (online) about why the Nets should pursue Josh Smith as the SF of the future - and take on the remaining 3 years and $11m per year on his contract.
I don't think that anyone would argue with adding Josh Smith to this team, but many would argue with what we would have to trade for Smith and why would Atlanta do this deal.
The first proposal that they float (Smith and Pape Sy for Outlaw, Farmar and Damion James) will not get done as the Hawks are trying to cut salary, not add to it (Outlaw). The second proposal that they float (James, Farmar, Morrow and Graham for Smith) is not viable as Graham is not under contract and can't be dealt. However, that would be a pretty decent framework for a potential trade with Damion James and Jordan Farmar being the main pieces. And knowing that Atlanta's biggest need is a Center - perhaps either Petro or a pick would be the final piece. Is this enough to get a deal done, I am not sure, but it is a starting point.
However, Atlanta is very close to finding itself in a situation where they MUST trade Josh Smith. They already have Marvin Williams on the roster who is strictly a SF (albeit not a very good one) along with Al Horford who they desperately want to move to the PF position. This leaves a log jam with Smith - as they can't pay Williams, Smith and Horford who ideally play 2 positions - not 3. Aside from this, when a player starts to tell "sources" he is looking for a trade and you have a relatively young team which as constructed does not appear to be any better than a 4 seed in the East - it becomes time to realisitically start looking at dealing that player. Complicating the situation for Atlanta is the impending lockout, the uncertainty surrounding the salary cap and many teams' being unwilling to add extra salary until the CBA is finalized. This means that getting fair or equal value back is going to be much more difficult.
I think that some of the talk about the Nets looking to move up in the draft (or simply buy an additional first round pick) with Nikola Vucevic as the target - Vucevic is a pawn to trade to Atlanta for Smith or becomes the backup with Petro on his way to Atlanta. The Nets are NOT dealing Brook Lopez for any player not named Dwight Howard - but to be able to include a Center in a deal for Smith could be the sticking point.
A trade of Damion James, Jordan Farmar and either Petro or Vucevic for Josh Smith works on the ESPN Trade Machine. The Nets can not afford to trade away Petro without having a backup on the roster (even thought I don't think that should be a hindrance to the deal) which is I believe the reason for the interest in Vucevic (who either becomes the backup or is the center dealt to Atlanta - my guess is Atlanta would prefer Vucevic over Petro due to youth and upside).
Trading Damion James would be sad - as I truly believe he can develop into a very good NBA SF, but to replace him with Josh Smith becomes a trade you have to make. Farmar I believe is bound to be in another uniform next year anyways (as the biggest trade chip the Nets have - along with being expendable with DWill) and Petro I would volunteer to pack his bags!
Pre-Draft a starting lineup of is enough to be a top 5 seed in the East:
PG - DWill, Gaines
SG - Morrow
SF - Josh Smith, Outlaw
PF - Hump (he will be resigned)
C - Lopez
I would expect that the Nets would then focus on supplementing their bench with a shooter at the 2 guard spot (Josh Selby anyone? or Malcom Lee,Jimmy Butler or Travis Leslie) and depth at the PF/C position (Jeremy Tyler, JaJuan Johnson, Justin Harper, Trey Thompkins, Malcolm Thomas or Greg Smith). And I think the Nets will actively look to acquire at least 1 additional second round pick with additional targets potentially being Charles Jenkins, Bojan Bogdanovic, Keith Benson or Andrew Goudelock.
I actually think there is a very good chance that the Nets actively target buying a pick to draft Goudelock in the latter half of the second round - as he could be the deadeye assasin on the perimeter to supplement Morrow, and also can play PG with the second unit.
And if you do make this trade for Josh Smith - I think the necessity/likelihood of trading for Dwight Howard becomes marginal at best - as Lopez is one of the top centers in the NBA already - and offensively gives you more options while Hump and Smith make up for the defensive shortcomings.
It's going to be a very exciting night tomorrow - and I wouldn't be surprised if we end up with Josh Smith and Goudelock and some other combination of draft picks on our roster by the end of the night.