After writing my "Don't Trade Avery Bradley For Josh Smith" post yesterday, the most popular scenario included AB, Brandon Bass, and a first round pick for the Atlanta forward. Notwithstanding the fact that the salaries don't match up money-wise, I'm not even sure if it's a fair trade personnel-wise. Leave Bradley out of the equation and let's look at Bass and Smith straight up.
There's something to be said about a player that not only knows his limitations, but also knows exactly what he has to do to help his team win. Admittedly, their circumstances were very last season. Smith was in a situation where he and Joe Johnson had to be The Man and that meant a high volume of shots and more opportunities to make bad decisions. Indicative in the first round series against the Celtics, Smith settled for a lot of long 2's. He's also got a bad case of Rasheeditis, shooting an abysmal 25.7% from beyond the arc. Bass, on the other hand, knows his role. Doc had the luxury of inverting the offense last season with bigs that could shoot out on the perimeter. Bass and his steady jumper provided spacing for Rondo, Bradley, and Pierce to drive and slash in the paint. From ten feet out to the three point line last season, Bass shot 249-524 for a 47.5% clip. Smith was 178-500 for 35.6%.
Smith has the edge defensively on Bass, but Bass got better in the post as the season progressed. He's bigger and much stronger than Smith and in the Celtics' defense schemes, I'll take the rock over the leaper. Bass is hardly Perkins, but what Kendrick was so good at was maintaining position and staying low to the ground. Having a shot blocker out there is nice, but all it takes is a pump fake or a shot adjustment and you're toast. Bass is also quicker on the shuffle, making him more versatile. He showed flashes of being able to cover LeBron during the playoffs and although it wasn't an ideal situation, I'd rather have a player stay in front of his man rather than being slow-footed and relying on just challenging his shot with an outstretched hand. Defense is all about footwork and I'll take BB in a dance off any day of the week.
What will Josh Smith command on the open market? He's coming off a 5-year, $58 million deal with the Hawks and I'm sure that some rival GM is going offer him stupid money and try and make him a franchise player despite Atlanta's best intentions. A player with his combination of talent upside and attitude downside is bait for the desperate and the delusional. Danny's put together a great plan this season and the next three and it would be disappointing to see him tear it all down. He's practiced fiscal some responsibility with the salary cap (the jury's still out on Jeff Green), including getting Bass at 3-years for $20 million. Let's not forget that Bass could have gotten more elsewhere and took a hometown discount after only being here for one season. That's worth something. We're underpaying for Bass and we'd certainly have to overpay for Smith. If I'm going to pay double for someone, I want to double my investment and I just don't see that in Josh Smith. I see a guy that SportsCenter loves and coaches hate. Acquiring someone like Josh Smith is something the Knicks would do, not the Celtics.
And if the genesis of this trade is motivated by winning now, we need to consider that Ferry will attempt to drag this on as long as possible in order to get the best deal; Smith probably wouldn't be dealt until early to mid-March, so we're talking about the balance of around 25 games to acclimate himself to the team. It's that type of chemistry crushing move that doomed us in 2011 and could derail a team that, by all accounts, is going to really enjoy playing with each other. It's tempting to team up Rondo with one of his best friends from his Oak Hill Academy days. Plus, Smith has been very complimentary about Boston and its fans:
"When you're playing in an environment like the Boston Garden, they have probably the best fans," Smith paused, and then thought better of completely throwing Atlanta fans under the bus, adding, "some of the best fans in the whole entire league. Like I said before, I was a little jealous, you know what I mean?
"The fans out here are so supportive of their team," he said. "You go out and look in the stands, there's nothing but Celtics jerseys and I don't see a trace of red in there, you know what I mean? Understanding that the fans are that passionate, it adds an extra advantage for them. A bad shot can be as good as a turnover when you're playing against a team like Boston, especially with the fan base that they have."
Josh is right. Celtics fans are some of the best in the league because they're smart and they're loyal and if they're as smart and loyal as I think they are, keeping Brandon Bass (and Avery Bradley and a first-round pick) is not only good business, but it's also good mojo. I cut my teeth as an NBA fan in the 90's and Josh Smith reminds me a lot of Shawn Kemp. Kemp predated YouTube and Twitter but had they existed when he was rim rocking for the Sonics, I'm not sure the internet would have been able to handle the traffic. The 14-year-old of me loved Shawn Kemp, but looking back with hindsight, I would have much rather have had the guy he bumped from Seattle, Derrick McKey. Kemp was grunge, which proved to be a flash in the pan, where as McKey was rock steady. He worked with in the framework of the team and wasn't looking to be in the spotlight. Bass is my guy. Outside of Avery, I'm not rooting for a guy more. But fine, you want highlights? I'll give you highlights:
Bass` BIG slam on Wade! (via NBA)