Many thought the Atlanta Hawks would deal forward Josh Smith at the trade deadline given that his contract will be expiring after this season and he is unlikely to re-sign with the team, but that wasn’t the case. Instead, the playoff-seeded Hawks opted to hang on to Smith for rest of the year to see how far they could advance in favor of dealing him for assets. Although Smith won’t be back, he has still played his hardest for the Hawks.
Smith’s versatility is a big part of what the Hawks do on both ends of the floor and his ability to rebound, pass, defend and his athleticism are almost irreplaceable by one player. Despite the pending free agency Smith has been his usual stat sheet-stuffing self and has averaged 17.5 points, 8.4 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 1.9 blocks and 1.2 steals a contest. As a matter of fact, Smith is the only player in the NBA averaging this combination of statistics.
Luckily for the Hawks, Smith’s play hasn’t declined one bit since the trade deadline. In 22 games since the deadline Smith is still averaging over 17 points (17.7) eight rebounds, four assists and over a steal and block per game. Those are All-Star quality numbers in most seasons.
Smith will most likely be seeking close to a max deal in free agency this summer as at 27 he is still in his prime and capable of impacting a game in a number of ways. He may not get the max, but some team will most likely sign him for over $15 million per year. The Hawks took a risk by not getting something in return for Smith at the deadline, but the move has paid off in production and remaining in a playoff seed for Atlanta.