Atlanta always seems like they’re running in circles. That’s what happens when you get capped out and max out as a second round team. After spending last summer trying to convince everyone they were going all in to take the next step toward actual contender status, it looks like they’re going in the opposite direction.
The Hawks are beginning to get a feel for trade interest around the league in forward Josh Smith. Money, and a divorce after seven up-and-down years are the reasons.
Smith hasn’t asked to be traded, but apparently wouldn’t mind it, according to Yahoo! Sports:
“The relationship has run its course,” said a league source with knowledge of the dynamic.
There’s been growing acrimony between Smith and the organization, sources said, largely because of the feeling that Smith has been too convenient of a scapegoat. Smith had one of his most complete seasons for the Hawks, averaging 16.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and 3.3 assists.
Payroll is an issue for the Hawks, too, and Smith’s contract – which has two years and $25.6 million remaining – is an attractive target for management to unload, if, for no other reason, than the five years, $110 million left on Joe Johnson’s(notes) deal is far more difficult to move.
The Hawks have looked to identify veteran players near the end of their contracts, sources said, but have had no serious discussions on trading Smith.
“They’re looking for a change,” one Eastern Conference executive said. “They would die to be rid of Joe Johnson’s contract or move Smith, but they won’t give [Smith] away. They want something in return.”
If a move is made, Smith’s preferred homes are Boston, New Jersey, Houston and Orlando.
For the majority of his career, Smith has been an athletic player who didn’t know how to utilize his talents. While his versatility helped make the Hawks a playoff team, his distinction as an overpaid, good player also hurt them.
But on a veteran team where he might be just the third most important player, he could be the difference. The question is: what championship contender would trade some of its core for Smith?
Where does Smith best fit in?
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