As the NBA trade deadline approaches, a number of star players have been at the center of trade rumors.
Of all the big names that have been linked to other teams, Josh Smith seems to be the most likely candidate to be dealt by Thursday afternoon. Multiple reports have suggested that the Atlanta Hawks will move the forward, and have been in discussions with multiple teams.
The Milwaukee Bucks may have the best chance of landing Smith. According to ESPN's Marc Stein, the Hawks are intrigued by the possibility of acquiring Monta Ellis to play in the backcourt, alongside Jeff Teague. Atlanta’s point guard is averaging 6.9 assists per game, while Ellis has averaged over 25 points, in the past.
Brandon Jennings may be the Bucks best trade asset. The point guard is averaging 18.8 points and 6.1 assists per game. He will be a restricted free agent in the offseason.
ESPN’s Chris Broussard, though, is reporting that Milwaukee is looking to make a deal that doesn’t include Jennings or Ellis. Sources tell Stein that Jennings, Larry Sanders and John Henson have been deemed “near untouchables” by the organization. The club also wants to keep Ellis because Smith, reportedly, would like to play with the Bucks current starting guards. Smith is in the final year of his contract and Milwaukee doesn’t want to lose him after a few months.
If the Bucks are unwilling got meet the Hawks demands, the Brooklyn Nets might end up with Smith. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports reports that Brooklyn is prepared to offer package of Kris Humphries, MarShon Brooks, and either a future first-round pick or Bojan Bogdanovic’s draft rights.
None of the players that Brooklyn is offering has been particularly productive this year. Humphries is averaging six points and 6.2 rebounds per game, coming mostly off the bench. Brooks has struggled to get consistent playing time, averaging 7.6 points less than he did in his rookie season.
The Boston Celtics have also joined in the discussion to acquire Smith. Stein reported on Tuesday that a deal wouldn’t likely get done because Boston would have to send Paul Pierce to Atlanta. It now appears the Celtics could trade another one of their top players.
According to Broussard, general managers have insisted that Rajon Rondo is available. Rondo will miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL, but is under contract for the next two years. Smith will be looking to sign a maximum-salary contract in the summer, and the Hawks aren’t willing to give him the money he’s looking for.
There had been talk that team president Danny Ainge would look to trade Pierce or Kevin Garnett after Rondo’s injury. However, no trade with Boston appears to be imminent.