One incentive for the Atlanta Hawks to keep Josh Smith around is to make the team a more attractive destination for Smith's pal and fellow Atlanta native Dwight Howard, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent after this season. However, ESPN's Chris Broussard reports that Howard has "little interest" in joining the Hawks despite those ties.
As the Los Angeles Lakers trudge through their massively underachieving season, Howard's future with the franchise becomes more and more uncertain. The general consensus for now is that Howard will end up re-signing with the Lakers because, after all, they can offer another year and about $20 million more on a new deal than any other team.
Still, if this season and Howard's relationship with Kobe Bryant continue to go down the drain, the big man may be more inclined to look elsewhere. Besides Atlanta, the Dallas Mavericks and Houston Rockets are both expected to make a run at Howard in free agency.
If Howard truly does not want to play in his hometown, the Hawks would probably feel more emboldened to trade Smith, who has stated that he wants a max contract this offseason. Atlanta is hesitant to give the inconsistent Smith that deal he wants, and they would risk losing him for nothing if they held onto him until free agency.