According to Sam Amick of USA Today, Smith has reportedly made it clear he won’t be returning to Atlanta next season:
As for Smith and where he winds up, it remains to be seen. According to a person with knowledge of the situation, Smith’s representatives have made calls to other teams and have indicated he’s not likely to re-sign in Atlanta. Time will tell if that’s the case, as the Hawks- – like every other team that carries the “Bird Rights” of its player – can offer a five-year deal with 7.5% annual raises while other teams can only offer a four-year deal with 4.5% raises
Despite the Hawks being able to offer Smith the most money, I highly doubt he wants to accept it. And I highly doubt the Hawks want to offer it.
Smith has labeled himself a max contract player. After the Joe Johnson fiasco, Atlanta isn’t about hand out close to nine figures to anyone, let alone a self-proclaimed superstar who has yet to make an All-Star appearance.
There’s no denying Smith’s a versatile talent who can be an asset on either end of the floor, but as Amick notes, his self-imposed value impedes any potential trades. Teams now know that J-Smoove is looking for max money and operating under a ruthless CBA, its money that few will want to hand over to him.
Still, his salary demands won’t stop teams from inquiring about his services. Whether it be the Brooklyn Nets, San Antonio Spurs or someone elese, any number of intrigued franchises will gladly strike a deal with the Hawks.
The latest suggests that this is more an inevitability than conjecture. With Smith unlikely to re-sign, expect Atlanta to shop him hard. Though it does essentially own all the leverage in the situation, don’t be surprised if they wind up selling low just because.
Hawks general manager Danny Ferry isn’t about to take on any bad contracts, but expiring deals coupled with first-round picks might be the bare minimum needed to get the job done. After all, if Smith’s going to leave anyway, why not snag some draft picks for the rebuilding process, even if it involuntarily forces you to tank the rest of the season?
Obviously, Atlanta would prefer a star-caliber talent and/or a prolific big man, yet knowing that Smith is on his way out changes things. This is no longer about dealing a player who you could retain if you wanted to, it’s about getting something, getting anything for his departure.
Again, I must reiterate that allowing him to walk over the summer makes more sense than if the Hawks were to trade him for some mediocre talent laced with long term money. But if given the opportunity to stand financially pat and acquire some draft picks to present itself, Atlanta wouldn’t hesitate to jump at such an offer.
Moral of the story?
Smith wants out of Atlanta and there’s really no telling where he may go, when he’ll get there and what happens next.
Dan Favale is a firm believer in the three-pointer as well as the notion that defense doesn’t always win championships. His musings can be found at Bleacherreport.com in addition to TheHoopDoctors.com. Follow @danfavale on Twitter for his latest posts and all things NBA.