Lakers Rumors: Why Josh Smith for Pau Gasol Would Be a Step Back

The Los Angeles Lakers have reportedly been shopping power forward Pau Gasol for some time now, and while the team may have found a potential trade partner in the Atlanta Hawks, dealing Gasol for forward Josh Smith would be a classic example of taking one step forward at the expense of two in the opposite direction.

Gasol was part of the Chris Paul trade that was vetoed by NBA commissioner David Stern last year.

The 11-year veteran didn't grouse about nearly being shipped out of town, but his production on the court declined significantly, with both his scoring and rebounding averages dropping off.

Even more disturbing, Gasol once again pulled a vanishing act in the postseason, averaging only 12.5 points per game and shooting only 43 percent, contributing to the Lakers' being eliminated in the Western Conference semifinals by the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Even with all that taken into consideration, it's the Hawks that are pushing this deal, according to a report by Mike Bresnahan in the Los Angeles Times, perhaps because Smith is set to hit free agency in 2013.

The 26-year-old Smith, who averaged a career-high 18.8 points and 9.6 rebounds per game in 2011, has been unhappy in Atlanta for some time because, as Bresnahan  puts it, "he felt he was an unfair target of criticism by coaches and media members."

To his credit, in addition to being a capable scorer, Smith is also a very active player defensively, averaging 1.3 steals and 2.2 blocks per game a season ago.

So, given that he's younger, has scored more, has rebounded more and is seemingly a better defensive player, what's not to like about Smith?

Well, for one, there's his mediocre shooting.

For Smith to score nearly 20 points a game, it took a boatload of attempts. Smith shot a woeful 45.8 percent from the field a year ago, a dismal number for a big man.

Smith didn't do a whole lot better...

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