NBA trade rumors: Is Josh Smith really untradeable?

Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

With the NBA trade deadline now less than three weeks away, there are plenty of thoughts swirling about what the Pistons should do to salvage their disastrous off-season.

In the conversation of the Pistons approaching the trade deadline, one consensus seems to have emerged without sufficient reasoning: Josh Smith is untradeable. But is this actually the case?

Yes, his contract is large. But with no raises built in to the contract, the long-term implications won't be quite the same as other poor signings. $13.5 million a year for the life of his contract is easier to swallow than $13.5 million this year, $14.5 million next year, $16 the following year and so on.

Yes, he's been abysmal for the Pistons. But there's still a perception that he could be more effective playing power forward, wrong-headed though that perception may be. Additionally, Rudy Gay's drastic improvement after his trade from the Raptors to the Kings offers legitimate hope to a team in Smith's buy-low potential.

If Joe Dumars decided to test the market for Josh Smith, I think there would be significant interest around the league - significant enough that I think almost half of the teams would have at least some level of interest. Let's take a look at who might pick up the phone.

The list

Houston Rockets:

The fit seems perfect. Josh Smith and Dwight Howard are known to be good friends and have interest in playing together. The Rockets were supposedly interested in adding Smith over the off-season and could use an upgrade in talent at forward, with Donatas Motiejunas seeing significant minutes lately. They announced their interest in bringing back a power forward when looking to deal Omer Asik, who makes a great starting point for the trade even if it means bringing in a third team to act as Asik's landing spot.

The only hang-up is Daryl Morey. Would a team built around the systematic rejection of the long two add one of the worst culprits in the league at taking ill-advised jumpers?
Potential interest: 4 of 5

Brooklyn Nets:

The Nets have never been afraid to add money, look for talent, and take risks. They could use the help in the paint with Brook Lopez down for the year and Kevin Garnett as a shell of his former self. Brooklyn was actually extremely interested in adding Smith last year near the deadline, offering Kris Humphries, MarShon Brooks, and either a first round pick or Croatian sharpshooting forward Bojan Bogdanovic.

The Nets eventually used a similar package to bring Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Jason Terry to town, removing any opportunity to chase Smith over the off-season. But perhaps they're still interested? The Nets have the contracts to make a trade work. But with their improved play as of late, winning 10 of their last 12, would they be willing to shake up what's finally working?
Potential interest: 5 of 5

Charlotte Bobcats:

In their 10 years as a franchise, the Bobcats have only made the playoffs once. They were swept in the first round. They've shown promise this year behind rookie coach Steve Clifford, helping turn the team into one of the strongest defenses in the league despite some gaps in talent and struggles with injuries. They're supposedly buyers at the trade deadline, shopping Ben Gordon's expiring contract. Smith could fit in nicely alongside Al Jefferson and would provide a talent upgrade over current starter Josh McRoberts. But returning Gordon to Detroit after spending a first round pick to get rid of him before last season, just to get rid of Josh Smith's contract would be such a strong admission of failure that it would likely have to result in taking away Dumars' keys to the franchise.
Potential interest: 4 of 5

Chicago Bulls:

After another season-ending injury to Derrick Rose and trading Luol Deng for salary cap space, the Bulls' future is very much up in the air. Incumbent power forward Carlos Boozer is 32 and has been on the decline for several years. They might view the 28-year-old Josh Smith as an opportunity to extend their window as contenders. Boozer could be a nice fit in the big man rotation for the Pistons alongside Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond and his contract expires after next season.
Potential interest: 3 of 5

Boston Celtics:

The Celtics have some nice young players, some nice picks, but is it enough to rebuild on the fly? If they want to keep the 27-year-old Rajon Rondo through this rebuilding process, Smith's age and athleticism would partner well. Brad Stevens would be a great fit for a coach to get the most out of his roster's skillset. The team is looking to dealJeff Green, who allows Joe Dumars to save face. Smith and Kyle Singler for Green and Avery Bradley works. Let's make this happen.
Potential interest: 5 of 5

Los Angeles Lakers:

As detailed by SB Nation's Silver Screen and Roll, Kobe Bryant's ridiculous contract extension paints the Lakers into a corner. LeBron James or Carmelo Anthony aren't walking into that mess, making their best bet either chasing restricted free agents like Greg Monroe or using their expiring contracts to acquire assets. If I were in their shoes, I would be looking for a Godfather move: to package Pau Gasol and their lottery pick for Jeff Green and Rajon Rondo, Nash and one of their one-year contracts like Jodie Meeks to Detroit for Smith, then Jordan Hill and Steve Blake (along with all of the future picks that Houston would inevitably ream from them) for Omer Asik. But they probably won't. Instead, they'll probably just hold tight and strike out on all of their free agent chases this off-season, fielding a lineup similar to the Nets after they struck out on LeBron James in free agency.
Potential interest: 1 of 5

Memphis Grizzlies:

A similar situation to the Bulls with their best player down to injury and a 32 year old power forward on the decline, the penny pinching Grizzlies would also save some dollars in annual salary by dealing Zach Randolph for Josh Smith.
Potential interest: 3 of 5

New Orleans Pelicans:

The Pelicans have announced that both Eric Gordon and Tyreke Evans are on the trade block. The Pistons will need to replace Rodney Stuckey this off-season. Josh Smith isn't an ideal fit for New Orleans, but this could be an opportunity to swap bad contracts.
Potential interest: 2 of 5

New York Knicks:

The Knicks actually gave up a first round pick to acquire the untradeable Andrea Bargnani. Never put anything past them, especially when they are bad. Bargniani for Smith straight up could be a possibility or perhaps a package deal for Amar'e Stoudemire. But doing that to Mike Woodson...that would just be cruel...
Potential interest: 5 of 5

Orlando Magic:

At first blush, the Magic do not make sense. They're rebuilding around youth and draft picks. But they will need to provide some veterns around their youngsters and incoming pair of lottery picks, and Josh Smith may make sense. Perhaps they'd see Smith and Will Bynum as a talent upgrade over Jameer Nelson and Glen Davis. But with Tobias Harris already in the picture, adding Smith would certainly be a bad idea. 
Potential interest: 1 of 5

Phoenix Suns:

The average age of their top five leaders in minutes played is 27.6. This team is older than you might think. Athletic, in the thick of the Western Conference playoff chase, with financial flexibility and plenty of upcoming draft picks, they should be buyers with at least one of their expiring contracts. Josh Smith for Emeka Okafor would work nicely.
Potential interest: 4 of 5

Sacramento Kings:

They made the Rudy Gay Effect an actual thing. Would they be willing to double down? Marcus Thornton isn't doing anything to help them win games. Starting power forward Jason Thompson isn't happy. Why not do Thornton and Jimmer for Smith?
Potential interest: 5 of 5

Washington Wizards:

The Wizards front office and fanbase is obsessed with the playoffs this year. They already sacrificed one first round draft pick for this season in trading for Marcin Gortat. But they could still use more help for their push this season and they've already been vocal in their desire to upgrade their frontcourt with expressing interest in Greg Monroe. Well, we have a power forward you can have. Otto Porter hasn't helped them this season, but would be a great fit for the Pistons long-term. Porter and the pupu platter of Jan Vesely, Kevin Seraphin, and Chris Singleton would work.
Potential interest: 4 of 5

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