Smith's call to play against Celtics

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Smith's call to play against Celtics

Apparently the decision as to whether Atlanta's Josh Smith (left knee) will play in Friday's Game 3 matchup against the Boston Celtics is one man's decision -- Josh Smith.
Hawks coach Larry Drew told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the decision on whether Smith will play is his alone.
Its strictly going to go on his call," Drew said. "I know Josh, hes a warrior. If he feels like he can play, he wants to be out there. If he cant go we dont want him out there limping around and injuring the knee.
When told that the decision to play was his to make, Smith smiled.
"Oh, they are going to put the pressure on me like that? It's OK. If it feels good, I'm going to go. I'm not one to harness injuries. I have a high threshold for pain. If I feel like I can go a little bit I'm going to step out on floor."
While this series is filled with a number of future Hall of Famers and all-stars, Smith has distinguished himself as arguably the best player in the series.
In the two games, he has averaged 19 points and 15 rebounds in addition to 4.5 assists and 1.5 blocked shots per game.
Even before the series began, a number of Boston players -- among them, Paul Pierce -- spoke glowingly about Smith's play.
"He is a lot of work," Pierce said. "He's an all-star in my mind. He's playing as good as anybody in the NBA at this point."
"Those guys are Hall of Fame players," Smith said in a recent interview with CSNNE.com. "To hear that come out of their mouths, it really gives me motivation and drive to become an all-star one day."
But first things first.
He has to get back on the floor in this series, something that may happen as early as Friday.
And with injuries that will keep Al Horford (pectoral surgery) and Zaza Pachulia (foot), the Hawks need as many abled-bodies in the frontcourt as possible.
Still, you won't find Smith rushing to get back on the floor if he's not healthy enough to play meaningful minutes.
"I don't want to put that much pressure on me," Smith told the AJC. "I understand how important this series is, but it's more than one game. I don't want to go out there too early and risk getting injured more."

Five reasons standing pat may be Celtics' best move

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Five reasons standing pat may be Celtics' best move

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Report: Pacers taking offers for Paul George

Report: Pacers taking offers for Paul George

In a good example of both strong reporting and stating the obvious, The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski wrote Wednesday that the Pacers are “gauging the trade market on All-Star forward Paul George.”

The only team mentioned in Wojnarowski’s piece as a suitor via trade is the Celtics. Wojnarowski writes that if the Pacers trade the 26-year-old George to Boston, they might be motivated to do it sooner to make sure the C’s don’t move those assets to Chicago for Jimmy Butler first. 

Writes Wojnarowski: 

The Pacers are working the trade deadline on parallel fronts: Pursuing deals that will bring talent into Indiana to sell George on signing a long-term extension -- and soliciting deal offers on George that would signal a rebuild around center Myles Turner, league sources told The Vertical.

Ultimately, the Pacers will have to evaluate the two paths and make a decision before Thursday’s 3 p.m. ET deadline. There’s no urgency to make a deal for George, unless the Pacers fear the Boston Celtics could ultimately provide Indiana the best possible package of assets in a deal -- and think that option could disappear if Boston makes a deal with Chicago for Jimmy Butler.

A 6-foot-9 small forward, George is averaging 22.3 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game this season. 

George’s contract expires after the 2017-18 season, which is also when Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley and Marcus Smart will be due for new contracts. Wojnarowski writes that trading for the California native would put the team at risk of potentially losing him as a free agent to the Lakers. 

Teams trading for George run the risk of losing the four-time All-Star to a Lakers franchise that will have the salary-cap space to sign him in 2018. The Lakers’ hiring of Magic Johnson as president of basketball operations will be an interesting twist to George’s free-agent recruitment, given that Johnson has been something of a George family icon going back to George’s childhood in nearby Palmdale, Calif.