Atlanta Hawks forward Josh Smith has pouted and groaned about his situation for quite some time, and now, according to reports, he might finally be on his way out of town (per TNT analyst David Aldridge via NBA.com):
The Atlanta Hawks are entertaining trade offers around the league for forward Josh Smith, but have yet to decide whether they will deal the ninth-year forward, according to league sources.
The Hawks met with Smith's representatives this week, at which point the team indicated it was not willing to give Smith a max contract after this season, according to a source.
UPDATE: Friday, Feb. 8, at 6:49 p.m. ET by Brian Leigh
Chris Broussard @Chris_Broussard
Source close to situation says "60 percent" chance ATL trades Josh Smith b4 deadline. Brooklyn one of several teams interested.2013-2-8 23:30:22
Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution also further substantiated the Hawks' refusal to pay Smith max dollars:
Chris Vivlamore @CVivlamoreAJC
Multiple sources: There have been no contract talks between Hawks and Josh Smith, including team refusal to give him a max deal. #ATLHawks2013-2-8 23:21:39
---End of update---
It's that last part (of Aldridge's quote) that's causing the rift. Smith believes he's a max-contract player, but the Hawks—who plan to be spenders in the 2013 offseason—don't think he warrants that kind of sum.
At his best, it's hard to argue a case against Smith. The 27-year-old, do-it-all forward has shown flashes of greatness in his nine-year career, and as of late, even hints of consistency. Coming off a career year in 2011-12, he's averaging 16.8 points, 8.6 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 2.2 blocks per game this season.
But his on-court prowess oftentimes comes with a price.
Earlier this season, Smith was suspended one game for "conduct detrimental to the team," a move that hardly surprised anybody. He has long been frustrated with his spot in Atlanta and his name has been floated in trade rumors for over a year.
This news seems a little more inevitable than previous reports, though. This is the Hawks flat-out telling Smith that they don't value him the way he values himself.
Even if they don't trade him, Smith is highly unlikely to be wearing a Hawks uniform next season. Why not see what you can get in return right now?
Atlanta is currently 27-22, good for sixth in the Eastern Conference and safely among the group of eight playoff teams. However, its play has been shoddy of late, and following Lou Williams' season-ending ACL injury, it's hard to see the Hawks as serious contenders this season.
Could now be the time to make moves for the future?