Josh Smith stays at the deadline, but will he this summer?

Raj Prashad —  February 22, 2013 — 3 Comments

As the 2013 NBA trade deadline came to a close, the prize piece stayed put, when general manager Danny Ferry decided the best option for the Atlanta Hawks organization was to hold onto forward Josh Smith.

Just hours after Atlanta reneged on a trade that would have sent Smoove to Milwaukee, the USA Today reported it “highly unlikely” the power forward would re-sign with the Hawks this summer.

On Thursday, Smith said Atlanta will be on his list of teams he considers when he becomes a free agent. However, all politics is local. The Atlanta native does not want to irritate the home fans, but a person familiar with Smith’s plans told USA TODAY Sports that it is “highly unlikely” that Smith re-signs with Atlanta. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the private nature of the negotiations.

This statement presents the question: what, if anything, can the Hawks do this summer to keep Smith?

When speculation spread that Smith could potentially be dealt to the Bucks, Chris Broussard tweeted out that No. 5 would welcome playing with Milwaukee’s Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis.

Just hours later, in a chat held on ESPN.com, it was interesting to see analyst Chad Ford make comments connecting Atlanta and Jennings this summer.

Screen Shot 2013-02-20 at 5.00.49 PM

Jeff Teague, like Jennings is up to be a restricted free agent this summer. Restricted free agency, in short, means another team can offer a player a contract and if the player signs the offer sheet, their original team can match this offer and retain his services.

Teague is in the middle of his best season as a Hawk, scoring 14 points and seven assists per game. After playing sparingly over the first two years of his career, the third-year guard is one of the “core players” on the Atlanta roster, along with Al Horford and Smith.

But if Teague, compared to Jennings, is more of a pass-first, shoot-second type of guard, why would Smith want Milwaukee’s ball handler over Atlanta’s?

For one, Jennings could take some of the focus off of Smith.

While it’s no doubt the Hawks need a locker room leader, and Jennings doesn’t exactly fit that bill, he is a playmaker. An electric guard who isn’t afraid to chuck the ball, Jennings has attempted a whopping 903 shots in 2013 compared to Teague’s 607. He is the driving force behind the Milwaukee offense and would bring some swagger to the Atlanta locker room.

But digging deeper, Jennings’ numbers simply back up Smith wanting to play with him. Per 36 minutes for their respective careers, Jennings is the overwhelming favorite, despite his background as a volume shooter. Assists-wise Jennings averages 5.8 assists per 36 minutes, while Teague averages just 6.1.

But this season, Teague is averaging 7.5 assists per 36, while Jennings, who is surrounded by another ball-dominant guard in Ellis, is averaging just 5.9 assists.

What Jennings gives up in passing, he makes up for in points. His 18.4 points per 36 minutes are ahead of Teague’s 15.2 per. Jennings admittedly looks for his shot much more often than Teague and does hold a lower field goal percentage, but he gives his team what could be considered the “Jamal Crawford effect”. When Jennings gets it going, he’s hard to stop.

After checking out the numbers, it will be a tough decision for the Hawks between two players who could conceivably command similar money.

Teague is fitting in nicely with Atlanta, but his night-in and night-out effort is a bit concerning. When he’s aggressive and gets up for the big games, he’s unstoppable. When he’s not keyed in, it’s been a bit sloppy. And his turnovers are costing Atlanta down the stretch.

The same can be said for Jennings, though. HIs shooting has pushed the Bucks in and out of games.

With all things considered, if it meant bringing Smith back, would you choose Jennings over Teague? Let us know in the comments below.

Raj Prashad

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3 responses to Josh Smith stays at the deadline, but will he this summer?

  1. “His night-in and night-out effort is a bit concerning.”

    For me, you chalk this up to coaching. LD has failed to get both Smoove and Teague to reach their full potential. Woody failed in the same regard before Teague. With Jennings, what you see is what you get. He’s already at his potential. With Teague, he’s already a more efficient player than Jennings and you get the feeling he’s holding back and has further upside. There’s no question Teague could be a better defender with consistent effort. He just needs the right coach to get that out of him.

  2. Woody failed in the same regard before LD, sorry.

  3. I agree that some of it comes down to coaching, but when he’s walking the ball up the court, waiting to get instruction from Horford on what to run and hesitant with taking the ball to the rim, I consider that the player’s fault.

    I do, however, agree that his upside could be way above Jennings’.

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