We all want the Bulls to pick up Melo, Love, or some other big FA on the market. I am firmly in that camp as well. But if we flame out with our big moves, as Bulls fans have been accustomed to, what about a deal straight up trading Carlos Boozer to Detroit for Josh Smith? We already did a similar trade once with Ben Wallace for Larry Hughes, our other huge FA bust.
Josh Smith might be one of the only players in the league more unpopular than Boozer, but he could very well be a great fit for the Bulls. The Bulls would be taking on an additional two years of salary but the cap hit would be smaller (Smith's contract is $13.5M over 3 years vs. an expiring $16.8M for Boozer *).
Reasons Why This Deal Makes Sense for the Bulls
1. Age of Players
Smith is in a terrible situation right now in Detroit, on a bad contract, but he makes less money than Booz and he's much better and in his prime. Smith is only 28 years old so he should still perform somewhat close to his peak for the rest of his deal. Boozer, meanwhile, is 32 and has been steadily declining in pretty much every statistical category the past few years. Dumping some salary off our cap and getting a younger player in return sounds pretty good, although the added two years would obviously be a downside
2. Josh Smith Stock: Buy Low
The Josh Smith stock is pretty low right now. He had an atrocious year in Detroit. Part of this was terrible team chemistry (noted fights in the locker room, players tuning on the head coach who was fired), part of it was poor roster build (Smith, Monroe, and Drummond all playing significant minutes together and clogging the interior on offense). But Josh Smith is a pretty good player if you can get over the stupid mental errors he will make throughout a game. You can pencil him in for 16-18 ppg/7-9 rpg/3-4 apg, which is pretty damn impressive.
He also has the skills to be a game changer on defense. He's averaged about 2 blocks/1 steal for his career and he has been top 10 in block % and total blocks for most of his career.
3. Josh Smith is a great fit for the Bulls' system
The Bulls' system thrives on athletic bigs that are mobile enough to show hard and recover or switch on pick and rolls, elite offensive rebounding, and smart team defenders. Smith nails two of those three. He's a very good offensive rebounder, averaging about 3 orpg in his career, and at 6' 9" and a bit of a freak of nature athletically, he's capable of being an elite on ball and team defender. Smith would be pretty perfect in Thibs' scheme on the PnR, as he's athletic and mobile enough to switch or show.
Another great strength of the Bulls is our coach. Josh Smith strikes me as an extremely talented guy that coaches just have never really been able to get through to. I think Thibs is a pretty great fit for this role, as guys like Smith have career years when they come to the Bulls. Thibs is really gifted at getting the best out of his players and I think the fit of a great coach like Thibs and an underperforming player like Smith is potentially very exciting.
We also desperately need help on the wing, and we do not need Boozer because Taj has shown he can play starter minutes at a high level. Just getting rid of Boozer for anything is a plus to open up minutes for Taj.
Why This Trade Makes Sense for Detroit
1. New Coach, New System
Stan Van Gundy was promised a lot of authority on the build of the roster when he came over to Detroit. I'm sure he would love the idea of getting out from under Smith's contract and starting to reshape the roster to players he personally likes. Getting a huge expiring contract in Boozer would be a nice boon for a rebuilding club in Detroit.
2. Locker Room Chemistry
The Detroit locker room was a total mess last year. One of Boozer's strengths is that he is a great teammate and very coachable. I would think that he would be a huge benefit for Detroit's locker room over Smith.
3. Nobody likes Josh Smith
I think Detroit would just love to get out of Smith's contract to satisfy the fans. People really hate Josh Smith in Detroit, and shipping him out for anything would help fan attendance. He is not a fun player to watch when he's not being coached well. He makes watching basketball physically painful with his horrid shot selection and decision making. These are all things I think Thibs can coach out of him though to a degree though.
I don't think Josh Smith is necessarily the answer for the Bulls. There are a lot of more preferable choices we can make in the offseason. But the deal does make sense for both teams and Reinsdorf is unwilling to amnesty Boozer (likely), it would improve the Bulls for 2015.
*Note* I am not sure if the cap hit is the average of Boozer's salary over the length of his contract ($15M) or his actual salary in 2014-15($16.8M)