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Nets Pushing Hard For Hawks’ Josh Smith

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The Brooklyn Nets are heavily pursuing a trade with the Atlanta Hawks to acquire forward Josh Smith, according to sources close to ESPNNewYork.com.

The website reported a few days ago the opening of discussions between the two teams. The pace of talks has increased recently, but no deal has been reached, according to the website.

Brooklyn is looking to make a trade before the NBA’s Feb. 21 deadline, even if it may not be with the Hawks. ESPN.com reported on Friday that the Nets were also in preliminary talks with the Charlotte Bobcats for acquiring guard Ben Gordon and sending power forward Kris Humphries to Charlotte.

Despite their interest in Gordon, the Nets have made acquiring Smith their top priority. If the Nets do trade for Smith, then Humphries would more than likely head to Atlanta because he is being discussed as one of the players in the deal.

In the proposed deal the Nets would send Humphries and shooting guard MarShon Brooks for Smith. But the Hawks are wanting a little more than those two players. They would also like to have the Nets first-round draft pick.

One scenario that has been mentioned is Hawks’ Anthony Morrow, who played his last two seasons with the Nets, returning to the team.

Marc Stein of ESPN.com reported that the Hawks would like to have a younger center in return for Smith. That may have to involve a third team to pull off the trade for Smith.

Smith is averaging 16.9 points, 8.5 blocks, and four assists per game this season. He is scheduled to become a free agent after this season, is expected to ask for a contract at or close to maximum-salary money.

This is part of the risk that Hawks general manager Danny Ferry is facing if he decides to keep Smith. According to a source close to the situation, there is a 60 percent chance the Hawks will trade Smith.

The only reason the Hawks would consider keeping the Atlanta native is to attract childhood friend and Atlanta native, Dwight Howard. But Howard’s father, Dwight Howard Sr., told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in an interview last week that he thinks his son will resign from the Lakers.

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