Sports 56 WHBlog Q

August 8, 2008

Josh Smith Coming to Memphis?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Peter Edmiston @ 9:57 am

It took a move like this to blast me back into the blogging scene, but i am back because this is big news.  Courtesy of my Morning Rush co-host Ron Tillery, here’s the scoop:

The Memphis Grizzlies have sent a contract offer worth $58 million to Atlanta Hawks restricted free agent Josh Smith today, according to multiple NBA sources.

As the only team left with significant room under the salary cap, the Griz have shifted out of a summer holding pattern and targeted the versatile 6-9, 235-pound forward.

Atlanta has seven days to match, per league rules, once Smith receives the offer sheet.

The Hawks have said they would match any contract offer to the 22-year-old Smith, but are on the hook next season with big contracts for Mike Bibby and Joe Johnson.

Smith’s numbers have increased in each of his four NBA seasons since Atlanta made him a first-round pick out of high school in 2004. He averaged 17.2 points, 8.2 rebounds and 2.8 blocks last season, helping the Hawks make the playoffs.

Now THAT is what I’m talking about! Anyone who has listened to the Morning Rush knows that my number one hope for the Grizzlies this offseason was that they would use their cap money to make a run at Josh Smith.  It’s not often you can acquire a 22-year-old whose numbers have been steadily on the rise, and who is already an elite defender (2 steals and 3 blocks per game last season).  Put him in a lineup with Conley, Mayo, and Gay and you’ve got an extraordinarily athletic group that’s capable of great things on both sides of the ball.  And they’d all be 22 or younger!

Obviously the Hawks hold the cards now.  They have a week to match, and they probably will do just that.  But their organization has been in turmoil for some time…they’ve had lots of time to extend Smith’s contract and they’ve steadfastly refused to pay more than 9 million a year.  Now the Griz have offered him around 12 million a year – that might be a bit more than they can swallow.  It’s still likely they’ll match, but it’s not a slam dunk, especially given the acrimony between Smith and the Hawks front office.

Kudos to Chris Wallace for engineering the move and to Michael Heisley for authorizing the spending.  If nothing else, this can put to rest the morons who keep claiming that Heisley is unwilling to spend money.  He has in the past and will in the future if the situation calls for it, and this situation called for it.

And major props to Ron for scooping EVERYONE on this story.  As I write, no one else has it yet.  Big scoop for Ron and the CA.

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