With non-stop rumors circulating about where Josh Smith will wind up playing the second-half of the 2012-13 NBA season, we’ve heard probably more than half of the leagues teams mentioned.
One team we really haven’t heard mentioned much however, is his current team, the Atlanta Hawks.
So could Smith Re-Sign with Atlanta?
In today’s age, the answer has to unquestionably be yes. And while I scurry to get this article finished before he gets traded, the main reason behind this logic is that we haven’t been dealing with Smith trade rumors for the better part of the last two weeks, or even the last two months, but more like the last two years.
Sure, less than a month ago Smith declared himself a max contract deserving player, and with the Hawks recent experience in giving out max contracts, they probably don’t want to go down that avenue again, at least not with Smith.
I say “at least not with Smith” for two reasons: 1) If teams were lining up to give Smith a max contract, don’t you think he would’ve been traded by now? So maybe talent-wise Smith is deserving of a max contract – I mean guys like Brook Lopez, Eric Gordon and Roy Hibbert have been paid handsomely, why not Smith? – but you’re only worth what a team is willing to pay you, and with new cap restrictions approaching as soon as next season, not every moderately good free agent will be offered max money. 2) There’s another free agent in the class of 2013 who WILL demand a max contract, who happens to be from the Atlanta area, and what do you know, grew up playing with Smith.
Whether or not the Hawks are able to sign Dwight Howard this offseason, they still have the option of retaining Smith, which they may be able to do a little bit easier if they’re able to lure in Howard. There have been rumors that teams have been trying to pair the two since Howard was “made available” last season, and right now there just doesn’t seem to be a more feasible destination than Atlanta. If the Los Angeles Lakers decide to pony up and trade Pau Gasol – if Atlanta even wants him – then maybe we’ll see a reunion in L.A., but if Gasol hasn’t been traded yet, I can’t imagine he will be over the next week.
Fundamentally, what this comes down to is somebody wanting to make Josh Smith their guy, and considering this is the first season that he’s led the team in scoring (17.4- he and Joe Johnson each averaged 18.8 ppg last season), why would Atlanta (or anyone else) want to build around him?
Yes, his strong point isn’t necessarily his scoring. While Smith boasts impressive career averages of 1.3 steals and 2.2 blocks per game, he’s most definitely a tweener on both ends of the court. Not only is he in between positions, but after playing in Joe Johnson’s shadow for the past several years, it still isn’t even certain that he’s the best player on the team with Al Horford always contributing at a high level if he isn’t dealing with an injury.
My point in all of this is that there are reasons that the masses disagree with Smith’s assertion that he’s a top tier player, and guys like him, Brandon Jennings, and Andre Iguodala should stop chasing max contracts when they don’t have supporting resumes. There are even rumors that teams aren’t going to be rushing to offer Howard or Andrew Bynum max contracts because they’re worried about locking in a lucrative contract with someone who may not be able to return to full health immediately, or even ever.
Long gone are the days of Charlie Villanueva and Ben Gordon being handed insane contracts.
I think that the Hawks understand this better than Smith, who as he’s done over the past 9 years, needs to stop worrying about his contract and continue to put his playoff-contending team first.
For a player who’s found his name submerged into the rumor mill a whole lot over the past seasons, I would have to imagine that Smith is thinking there might be more smoke than fire in regards to the latest rumors. Either way, money talks above all else in sports, and seeing how he’s been available for so long but hasn’t gone anywhere, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him tip off the 2013-14 back down in the A.
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