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Nets Trade Rumors: Josh Smith A Fit For New Jersey?

Could unhappy Atlanta Hawks' forward Josh Smith, who has expressed a desire to be dealt by the March 15 NBA Trade Deadline [via HOOPSWORLD] be a target for the New Jersey Nets? Smith has one year left on his contract after this season at $13.2 million, and if the Nets can fit that number into their budget the move makes sense on a couple of levels.

Related: Dwight Howard Trade Rumors StoryStream

First, the small forward spot Smith plays has been a sore spot for the 13-27 Nets all season. The 6-foot-9, 225-pound Smith, who is averaging 17.1 points, 9.8 boards and two blocks a game this season would certainly do that. Smith, 26, is an inconsistent offensive player and poor shooter, but is one of the league's most athletic small forwards and an outstanding defender.

"People look at the offensive end but defensively he changes the game," Hawks coach Larry Drew said recently. "He is one of the few players I think that can play a defensive game and impact the game even if his offense is not on that night."

The other factor that might make Smith an attractive acquisition for the Nets? HOOPSWorld reports that Smith and Dwight Howard, the star Orlando Magic center the Nets are desperately hoping to bring to Brooklyn, have been life-long friends.

HOOPSWORLD also mentions that the Magic, who are still clinging to the idea they can convince Howard to stay, might make a play for Smith for that very reason. It will be interesting to see if the Nets try to beat Orlando to the punch.