After reaching that impasse, it's important that the Hawks part ways with their eccentric star, before they find themselves victim to the latest case of the NBA's "Catch 22" when it comes to dealing with free agency.
According to ESPN NBA Insider Chris Broussard, Ferry has decided not to re-sign Smith to a contract extension before he hits unrestricted free agency this summer. Rival executives are waiting for the other shoe to drop on that decision—a Smith trade:
Many executives around the league believe Atlanta GM Danny Ferry is intent on moving Josh Smith before the deadline. On Wednesday, three opposing GMs told me definitively that Ferry has decided not to re-sign Smith in free agency this summer and is trying hard to move him within the next week.
It appears that the Hawks aren't intent on just "giving" Smith away, as evidenced by their denial of a deal that would have netted the club MarShon Brooks and Kris Humphries from the Brooklyn Nets. The New York Daily News reported that the Hawks had declined the potential deal, and Legion Sports reported it on Twitter:
That falls in line with what Broussard reported on Thursday, as he claimed that the San Antonio Spurs mentality will keep Ferry from flat quitting on Smith in a deal that doesn't benefit his club:
So he won't give him away, but if someone comes with a good offer, Josh Smith is gone. I don't think Danny takes the Nets' deal. I think someone has to do better than that.'
The Nets aren't the only team interested in Smith, proving that Ferry has plenty of options to make a deal before giving up completely.
Yahoo! Sports' Marc J. Spears also put the San Antonio Spurs in the ring for Smith's services earlier this week in his power rankings piece, but there's little doubt that San Antonio is the least likely NBA franchise to put up with Smith's penchant for long jump shots and lazy play.
No matter the suitor, Ferry must work overtime to get a deal done soon. Atlanta could benefit from an expiring contract and a draft pick or two, because losing Smith for nothing this summer could be crippling to a long-term future.
While it's clear Ferry is bring the "build through the draft" strategy to town, he also needs to be able to attract a few key free agents. Smith—no matter your personal feeling on his style of play—is the biggest draw for other players in the league. If he was to leave town on his own this summer, the cap space that Atlanta would save wouldn't be enough to justify holding on to him for the rest of this season.
There's still plenty of time for Atlanta—and the rest of the league—to make a deal. Teams will begin to pitch bigger and better ideas over the All-Star break as franchises converge in Houston, and that will undoubtedly lead to deals getting done before Feb. 21.
For Atlanta's sake, let's hope Ferry can get a deal done, too. Smith has expressed his desire to get paid like a star, and it's clear that Atlanta doesn't value his play to that end game. In the spirit of striking while the iron is hot, he should be playing in a new uniform by Feb. 22.