A couple of weeks ago, the Atlanta Hawks were riding close behind the Miami Heat in the Southeast Division and sitting in third place in the Eastern Conference standings. But the Hawks have now lost seven of their last 10 games while sliding down to sixth place in the East.
As the team struggles, leading scorer Josh Smith has been grumbling enough to earn a team suspension for one game, lighting a fire to the annual trade speculation that always seems to surround the high-flying forward. While there has always been chatter about Atlanta parting ways with Smith, he remains in his ninth season with the Hawks.
Atlanta GM Danny Ferry has some big decisions to make about the near and long-term future of the Hawks, and what he does with Smith will indicate where his priorities are with the current team. Adding help alongside Smith and Al Horford would give the Hawks a chance to rally and make a serious run at the playoffs this season. Ken Berger reports that Ferry's preference is to play for today.
Depends on two things: 1) Whether Danny Ferry has a short-term plan or a long-term plan, and 2) whether Smith will be happy with whatever changes will be made this summer, be they personnel or on the coaching staff. One exec privy to Atlanta's trade posture told me Ferry seems to be in "win now" mode, which suggests he'll try to add an All-Star-caliber talent alongside Smith rather than trade him.
If the Hawks can somehow add an All-Star level talent that would take some pressure off Smith, it would certainly turn the Hawks into a tough out in the playoffs. But if Ferry decides to move Smith, the assets coming back in the form of young players and/or draft picks would force the Hawks to look down the road further, which would likely keep the Hawks mired in the middle of the East for the near-term.