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NBA Atlanta Hawks

Atlanta Hawks’ Josh Smith Playing Like He Wants to Make Tons of Money This Offseason

Josh Smith ATL Hawks

Joshua S. Kelly – USA Today Sports Images

The Atlanta Hawks and Josh Smith have both not made it a secret that they plan to go their separate ways this off-season when Smith becomes an unrestricted free agent.

Smith is in his ninth NBA season, all of which have been spent with Atlanta. However, the Hawks have made it clear that they want to change the direction of their organization, subsequently meaning that Smith is on his way out the door.

It’s a well-known fact that a player that is about to enter free agency is much like a performer putting on an audition. The player wants the role for someone’s team and they have to show that they deserve the part. More importantly, though, the player wants to show that he deserves a lot of money to take that role.

In the case of Smith, he has long had the physical skills to be one of the elite players in the league, but it’s been some of his tendencies that have always set him back. He’s been known to play lethargically at times and has prompted many groans from Hawks fans when he jacks up an ill-fated three. That’s just part of the package when it comes to Smith.

The other part of the package with Smith, though, is undeniably great. When he’s engaged, like when he’s playing to make millions of dollars this off-season, he’s an incredible asset to have on your team. His last nine games are undoubtedly evidence of that.

Over those game, Smith has been playing like an All-Star, something that he’s done off-and-on for the majority of his career. He’s averaged 19.6 points, 7.8 rebounds, four assists, 1.6 steals and 1.3 blocks per game while shooting 49.3 percent from the field. That’s elite production, and there’s no way it can be called anything but that.

Smith will go to another team this summer, but he’s definitely a wild-card in terms of what kind of production he will give them. If he goes to a contender with an influential coach and stable system, Smith could become an All-Star that could change an entire franchise. However, if he goes to a team that is full of instability and seems somewhat aimless, Smith could forever be the lethargic player jacking up ill-advised threes.

In both scenarios, though, Smith is about to get paid.

Cody Williams is a Senior NBA Writer with Rant Sports. Follow Cody on Twitter @TheSizzle20 and like his Facebook page.