NBA trade rumors: Josh Smith to Sacramento? Pistons, Kings reportedly talking

Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

There's really no such thing as an immovable contract.

Update: Detroit's trade talks with the Kings are reportedly "dead," according to DraftExpress.

The Pistons and Kings have discussed a deal that would send Josh Smith to Sacramento, according to a report from ESPN's Marc Stein. "One source insists nothing imminent, but I'm told Pistons and Kings have discussed a trade that would send Josh Smith to Sacramento," he tweeted.

Who might the Pistons receive in return? "One scenario, I'm told, would send Smith to Kings for Jason Thompson and Derrick Williams. Jason Terry might be another option," tweets Stein.

The Pistons overpaid for Smith last summer by signing him to a four-year, $54 million deal -- and that was before he proceeded to play the worst season of his career, shooting a career-low 41.9 percent from the field (including a cringe-worthy 26.4 percent from 3-point land) while playing out of position at small forward. But as we've learned time and again in the NBA, that doesn't mean he can't be moved.

Why would the Kings be interested in acquiring Smith? For one, he'd be allowed to play his natural position of power forward, joining Rudy Gay at small forward and DeMarcus Cousins in the middle. And second, the proposed trade might just be a precursor to a larger deal to remake the Kings:

It's not yet clear if the Pistons are in the running for the Kings' eighth overall pick, as well. If they are, DBB's Ben Gulker described the various salary cap implications the Pistons must consider for that to happen earlier this afternoon.

Over at SB Nation's Sactown Royalty, Aykis16 seems to like the move:

For Sacramento, this trade would be similar to the one in which they acquired Rudy Gay, getting a big talent who underperformed for as few assets as possible.  The Kings would be betting that Smith returns to his Atlanta form and perhaps focuses more on his all-around game rather than his offense with Rudy Gay and DeMarcus Cousins facing the biggest burdens there.

Although SBNation.com's Mike Prada doesn't think the trade is likely -- he rates it a 4 on a scale of 1 to 10 -- he can see how the Kings might talk themselves into the deal:

Sacramento is slated to approach the luxury tax even though they won just 28 games last year, so it's not like they can sign impact players in free agency. The No. 8 draft pick is nice, but it's hard to find a star at that spot. Three players averaged 20 points a game for them last year -- emerging young big man DeMarcus Cousins, free-agent point guard Isaiah Thomas and midseason acquisition Rudy Gay -- but the rest of the roster is very shallow and has a number of bad contracts. Consider that Thompson and Carl Landry, two power forwards who did little for the Kings last year, will make nearly $51 million combined through 2017, only $5 million less than Smith. Thus, the Kings may need to gamble on Smith's talent to move up in the West.

Thompson, who turns 28 years old in July, is also coming off a career-worst season, averaging just 7.1 points and 6.4 rebounds in 24.5 minutes per game. That's disappointing if you view him as a potential starter, but it's acceptable as a big man off the bench. He also plays a defined position and has attempted just five 3-pointers the last three seasons combined, which is more than you can say for Smith. Thompson is signed through the 2016-17 season after inking a 5-year, $30.1 million deal in 2012. He's owed $6 million in 2014-15, $6.4 million in 2015-16 and $6.8 million in the final year.

Williams, on the other hand, might still have some potential waiting to be unlocked. The former second overall pick by the Timberwolves in the 2011 draft just turned 23 years old in May, arriving to the Kings last year in a midseason trade. Unfortunately he fancies himself a bit of a 3-point shooter despite converting on just 29.6 percent of his attempts, but I trust Stan Van Gundy could corral the young player into achieving his fullest potential. Williams has averaged 10.1 points with 4.9 rebounds while averaging 23.2 minutes per game in his three seasons in the league.

In April, DBB's own revken included the Kings in a post outlining several potential trade partners:

The priority for the Kings this summer has to be keeping Isaiah Thomas, who will soon cease to be the league’s cheapest 20 points per game scorer. But ever since they rejuvenated Rudy Gay’s career, some Pistons’ fans have wondered if the Kings would also like to try their hand with Smith. He might actually be a good complement upfront to DeMarcus Cousins.

For a trade to work, it would probably have to include either Carl Landry (three years/$19.5 million) or Jason Thompson (three years/$19.3 million), plus one other player. Either Jason Terry (one year/$5.9 million) or Derrick Williams (one year/$6.3 million) should suffice. Terry, for example, could take Rodney Stuckey’s place in the Detroit guard rotation next season. Currently recovering from knee surgery, Landry has been a useful reserve at power forward for most of his career. While the third year of his deal would extend through the 2016-17 season, its modest amount ($6.5 million) would still save the Pistons $7 million they could use to meet other needs. The same is true for Thompson if the Kings preferred to offer him.

If this deal comes to fruition -- and I should remind you before getting too excited, the two teams are simply taking, and Stein hedged by saying nothing was imminent -- it would certainly seem to indicate the Pistons are willing to commit big money to restricted free agent Greg Monroe, who's about to get a lot of money once he hits the market. Van Gundy met with the Detroit media this afternoon, addressing Monroe's impending free agency:

Now your thoughts.

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