Report: Hawks taking trade offers for Josh Smith

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Josh Smith has been among the names most frequently mentioned in trade rumors this season. It’s not because he can’t play or that his current Atlanta Hawks team no longer wants him.

The problem is, they no longer want him at the price he’s likely to command this summer.

Smith will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season, and Atlanta has reportedly been willing to extend him for somewhere in the neighborhood of $45 million over three years.

But Smith believes he’s a max player, and has turned down the extension offer while preferring to play out this season and see if he can get a bigger deal in free agency, perhaps with someone else.

The Hawks would prefer not to lose a player like Smith without compensation, so naturally, they’re willing to listen to trade offers.

From David Aldridge of NBA.com:

The Atlanta Hawks are entertaining trade offers around the league for forward Josh Smith, but have yet to decide whether they will deal the ninth-year forward, according to league sources.

The Hawks met with Smith’s representatives this week, at which point the team indicated it was not willing to give Smith a max contract after this season, according to a source.

Smith, who will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution late last month that he believes he’s a max player, which would mean he’d be in line for a five-year deal worth around $94 million from Atlanta.

But the Hawks, which expect to be major players next summer in free agency or through trades, do not want to tie up that kind of money going forward.

Smith is a nice player, with an athletic skill set that can help teams on both ends of the floor. But is he capable of being your number one franchise guy?

That’s what teams bidding for Smith’s services will have to determine if they’re willing to give up legitimate assets this season to get him, because with the current salary cap and luxury tax implications teams are dealing with in the face of the most recent collective bargaining agreement, most clubs can’t afford to tie up that kind of cash in a player who’s going to be the second or third most important piece on a championship caliber squad.

John Wall scores 37 as Wizards down LeBron James, Cavs 127-115

Associated Press
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CLEVELAND (AP) John Wall scored 37 points, Bradley Beal added 27 and the Washington Wizards began a challenging road trip by beating LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers 127-115 on Saturday night.

Wall scored 18 in the first quarter, when the Wizards shot 82 percent, and Washington held on down the stretch to avenge an overtime loss to the NBA champions last month.

James, who briefly wore goggles to protect an eye injury sustained Friday night, scored 24 and added 11 rebounds and eight assists. Kyrie Irving added 23 points and Kevin Love 17 for Cleveland, playing at home for the only time in a seven-game stretch.

Washington’s victory cut Cleveland’s lead in the Eastern Conference to a half-game over idle Boston.

Rudy Gobert calls out Jazz teammates after loss: “We’ve just got to compete. We’re too nice.”

Associated Press
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Utah and the L.A. Clippers are almost locked into a first round, four vs. five battle in the Western Conference. The only question is which team will have home court, and the Clippers took a big step towards that beating the Jazz at home Saturday. While the Jazz still has a half-game lead, the Clippers have a much softer schedule the rest of the way.

After that loss, Jazz center Rudy Gobert was ticked off and called out his teammates. Via Tim MacMahon of ESPN.

“We’ve got guys that compete, but some of us don’t compete. Some of us just think about scoring. That’s what it is. … Coach keeps repeating it: We’ve just got to compete. We’re too nice. Those guys, we know they’re going to get calls. We’ve just got to come out aggressive and ready to fight.”

Interesting comments for a team that is third in the NBA in defensive rating and 13th in offense.

Gobert is frustrated as Utah has dropped four of its last five, and the slump has been on both ends of the court. The defense has struggled, but if guys are looking to score too much they aren’t doing it efficiently because the offense has been worse.

This slide likely costs Utah home court in the first round, which could matter in what will be a tight matchup with Los Angeles. Utah needs to find its grinding rhythm again heading into the playoffs, at their best they can knock off the Clippers in the first round. Just not like they are playing now.

One thing to watch, Utah’s Gordon Hayward asked out of the game in the fourth quarter due to what is being called a bruised muscle in his leg. If he misses any time or if this lingers, it could be trouble for the Jazz in the postseason.

 

LeBron James starts game with protective goggles. That lasts about a minute.

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LeBron James suffered a scratched cornea Friday night when he went up for a layup late in the third quarter and Jeremy Lamb tried to contest and caught him clean across the face. LeBron got the and-1, but had trouble keeping his eye open in postgame interviews Friday.

Saturday he did play — wearing protective goggles. As you can see above.

That lasted about a minute.

LeBron was likely frustrated as the Cavaliers defensive woes had the Wizards up double digits much of the first half.

Kobe Bryant says he’s “only a phone call away” if organization needs his advice

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For the first time since he walked off the court in his final game, Kobe Bryant was back at Staples Center Friday night.

The reason was Shaquille O’Neal was getting a statue out in front of Staples Center (a building that may not have gotten built without the two of them). The two famed feuders sat next to each other and joked around through the ceremony. Time heals all wounds.

With the new management of the Lakers — specifically Kobe’s former agent Rob Pelinka as GM — there has been speculation Kobe could take on a role. He’s not looking for something formal, according to reports, but he didn’t say no, either, when asked.

I picture Kobe as a guy who someday buys a team, not a guy who wants to haggle with agents over the details of a contract. He’s not going to take on a day-to-day role, he likes the retired life and what he is building with the Kobe brand.

That said, the Lakers front office can use all the smart voices it can get as they try speed up a rebuild. They should give him a call every once in a while.