As Mike Kerns pointed out this morning, reports are flooding the internet that suggest that the Hawks are looking to move Josh Smith as they look for cap relief after some interesting financial decisions over the last year. While Mike pointed out all the reasons why Smith would not be worth all that it would take to get him, I'm going to take the other side of the argument and make the case that Smith would not only be a worthwhile acquisition, but would completely turn the Rockets' fortunes for the next few years.
Read on after the jump to hear what I have to say.
Since Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady went down with their respective injuries (bum foot and bruised ego), the Rockets have been searching to fill the roster with quality players while also scouring the trade market for impact talent. In acquiring Kevin Martin, they were able to add a dynamite scorer and leading offensive player, but they have fallen short of the playoffs for consecutive years because they lack another impact player.
In Josh Smith, they could finally have that impact player who is not only young (25 years old), but a two-way player capable of affecting games on both ends of the floor. A natural small forward, Smith would transform the Rockets defense with his propensity for game-altering blocks and solid man-to-man skills. If the Rockets were able to hold onto Patterson in a Smith deal, a lineup of Lowry, Martin, Smith, Patterson or Scola, and Hayes (I know...) would be quite fearsome.
With a trade exception large enough to swallow the contract of Marvin Williams (a likely necessity to drive the price of Smith down), players like Courtney Lee, Chase Budinger, Jordan Hill, and a bevy of draft picks at their disposal, the Rockets have all the assets needed to make a Smith deal. If the Hawks required Patrick Patterson, the deal would be tougher to swallow, but with the other assets the Rockets have, they could probably work around giving up Patterson.
The fact is that the Rockets are operating from a wealth of depth and a lack of impact talents like Josh Smith. If the Rockets want to be a championship contender, they obviously need a talent like Dirk or Kobe, but they must surround him with top-notch complementary players like Kevin Martin and Josh Smith. The Courtney Lee's and Chase Budinger's of the world help those teams, but you only need so many of them to get by. Adding Josh Smith to this team would not only make them a sure-fire playoff team in the Western Conference, but it would lay the groundwork for a championship squad in the future.
Piling up assets only takes you so far, at some point you have to cash in your chips for the big prize. Josh Smith is not perfect by any means, but he'd be a tremendous addition and would sway the Rockets away from a situation where they would almost be forced to completely rebuild. Rebuilds can be painful on fan bases and often tough to recover from, and Smith is a sure thing to inject some much needed energy into a squad that has struggled to get traction for years.