The Milwaukee Bucks have become the latest team to enter the Josh Smith Sweepstakes.
According to the Racine Journal-Times, Milwaukee is interested in acquiring the Atlanta Hawks star. The report states that Brandon Jennings, Monta Ellis or Ersan Ilyasova could be involved in a potential deal.
Smith has been at the center of several trade rumors for the past couple of weeks. The Brooklyn Nets, Boston Celtics, Phoenix Suns, Philadelphia 76ers and San Antonio Spurs have all been linked to the forward. Milwaukee, though, may have the best chance of making a deal work.
ESPN’s Marc Stein reports that the Bucks have a few pieces that the Hawks feel could work well with their current roster.
“On Bucks/Josh Smith talk: Hawks' interest believed to start w/Monta Ellis, since Monta could play next to Jeff Teague, whom Hawks still like,” Stein said on Twitter.
Ellis was sent to Milwaukee from the Golden State Warriors last year. In his time with the Warriors, he was one the better scorers in the NBA, averaging at least 21.9 points per game in each of his final three seasons with the team. This year, he’s putting up 18.4 points and 5.5 assists per game on 40 percent shooting from the field.
Acquiring Ellis would give Atlanta a dynamic backcourt, but it would not hurt their salary cap situation. Ellis has a player option next season for $11 million.
Milwaukee might be looking to move Jennings, who will reportedly want to sign a maximum-salary contract when he becomes a free agent. However, the Hawks likely wouldn’t meet those demands, since they aren’t even willing to give Smith a max contract.
With the trade deadline set for 3 p.m. on Thursday, it appears probable that the Hawks will move Smith. He’s been one of the better forwards in the East, averaging 17.4 points, 8.6 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game. Still, Atlanta isn’t eager to give him a large contract.
Trading Smith would give the Hawks a chance to sign a big free agent in the 2013 summer. Dwight Howard is on the team’s radar, and they will be looking to sign the center, who is from Atlanta. If the Los Angeles Lakers miss the playoffs, Howard could decide to leave L.A. after one season.
Atlanta is looking to move their best player, but they still have a chance to make a postseason run. They are currently the sixth seed in the conference, but sit just 3.5 games behind the New York Knicks for the No.2 spot.