UPDATED 10:29 a.m. ET, Feb 21
In the hours before Thursday's 3 p.m. ET trade deadline, the Bucks emerged as the favorite to land Smith in a trade, sources said. Milwaukee's chances of landing the 6-foot-9 forward were viewed in some league circles as diminished by the team's small-market and cold-weather status. Smith, however, is more interested in the talent he'll be playing with than geography.
With the Bucks backing off in their pursuit of Magic shooting guard J.J. Redick on Thursday, a league source told CBSSports.com that Milwaukee's proposed deal for Smith is "unlikely" to include Monta Ellis. Such a development would lessen the urgency for the Bucks to acquire Redick for a first-round pick and also would open the door for other lower-paid players -- such as Ekpe Udoh, Beno Udrih, Luc Mbah a Moute and Tobias Harris -- to be included in the deal, sources said. The first-round pick Orlando is demanding for Redick could instead be funneled to the Hawks.
League executives believe that Phoenix remains a realistic destination for Smith, though the momentum has shifted to Milwaukee. The Suns' chances would be greatly enhanced if they were willing to surrender two first-round picks in the deal -- their own and the Lakers' pick obtained in the Steve Nash trade -- in addition to center Marcin Gortat. However, rival execs believe strongly that the Suns will not agree to give the Hawks multiple picks, especially their own, which will be high in the lottery.
The Nets have offered MarShon Brooks, Kris Humphries and either a first-round pick or Croatian Bojan Bogdanovic for Smith. Short of the Suns offering two first-rounders, some execs believe Brooklyn's offer might be the best GM Danny Ferry is able to extract for Smith, a 27-year-old prospective free agent who has never been an All-Star. But sources say Ferry's refusal to take back salary beyond this season is a sticking point the Nets will have trouble overcoming. Finding a third team to absorb Humphries or perhaps Gerald Wallace in a Smith deal would be challenging, to say the least.
In a related note, the Nets have "pulled the plug" on discussions with Charlotte for a Humphries-Ben Gordon swap, a league source said.
The Celtics have discussed a potential deal with Atlanta involving Smith and Paul Pierce, who has only $4 million guaranteed next season. Most rival front offices now believe the Celtics will try to add to their roster before Thursday's deadline, not blow it up.
Also, the Golden State Warriors had some brief dialogue with the Hawks about Smith, but sources said it never rose to a serious level. Ferry's insistence on including Stephen Curry -- and not including Andris Biedrins, who is owed $9 million next season -- put the brakes on those discussions.
And Houston is inolved in the Smith talks at a "high level," a source said. But the Rockets have the added leverage of cap room this summer to sign Smith as a free agent, diminishing the need to surrender significant assets in a trade. Dallas, with plenty of cap room this summer, has taken the same approach.