Although the Hawks offered no other details on why Smith was suspended, the incident appears to be connected to Atlanta's embarrassing 97-58 loss to the Chicago Bulls on Monday. Smith received a technical foul during the blowout loss, and according to Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Smith was kicked out of practice the next day.
According to a source, Smith was kicked out of practice Tuesday. #ATLHawks— Chris Vivlamore (@ajchawks) January 16, 2013
While this obviously isn't an ideal situation, it is hardly cause for panic. It appears Smith's frustrations got the best of him, and he will be ready to be a productive player after a night off to clear his head. He already issued the following statement, which indicates that he has already moved past the incident.
"Clearly I am competitive and was frustrated by our recent losses," Smith said. "I understand and respect the team's actions and just want to get back on the court to do whatever is necessary to help my teammates. I apologize for letting them down and apologize to our fans for not being available for tonight's game."
Smith has been a loyal member of the Hawks for his entire nine-year career, and he has led them to a surprising 21-16 record this season. Atlanta has lost six of its last seven, but Smith has them in the playoff race despite Danny Ferry's salary-dumping moves this offseason.
Smith is averaging 16.5 points, 8.3 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 2.3 blocks per game. His shooting percentages are ugly, but his energy, athleticism and versatility has helped the Hawks to sixth place in the Eastern Conference.
Smith and Al Horford have dominated opposing frontcourts this season, and Smith's age (he turned 27 on Dec. 5) suggests he's only going to get better.
He's in the last year of his contract, so if Ferry believes the Atlanta-native will bolt in free agency, then he should consider moving Smith. But if this suspension is as minor as it appears, it should play no role in Ferry's decision-making.
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