Is Josh Smith a max player?

Atlanta forward Josh Smith is averaging 17.4 points and 8.6 rebounds this season. Scott Halleran/Getty Images

With the league returning to post-All-Star business, the Josh Smith trade whispers turned into a shout on Monday. Just a month ago, Smith was suspended for one game by the Atlanta Hawks for a practice incident that stemmed from his frustration over a losing streak. Now it seems a near-certainty that Smith will be traded by Thursday's deadline, ending his 8½-year career in Atlanta and bringing to fruition rumors that have hounded him for years.

Smith has long been one of the NBA's mercurial talents, capable of keeping a team afloat or sinking it -- sometimes in the same game. He once went an entire season without making a 3-point shot, going 0-for-7 in 2009-10. That was a good thing, as he shot better than 50 percent from the field and posted what was then a career-best PER of 21.0. This season, he's on pace to take a career-high 175 3-pointers even though he still shoots less than the league average from deep. What do you do with a guy like that?