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Representatives of Josh Smith have been telling teams that he's not likely to re-sign with Atlanta this offseason. Will the Hawks simply let one of their stars walk?
Representatives of Atlanta Hawks forward Josh Smith have indicated that he's not likely to re-sign with the franchise this summer, USA Today's Sam Amick reports. A potential unrestricted free agent in the offseason, Smith reportedly sees himself as a "max contract player," despite failing to lead the Hawks to major success.
One of the league's most athletic and versatile players, Smith fills up the box score but has never quite turned the Hawks into a major contender in the East. Paired with the likes of Joe Johnson and Al Horford in the past, Atlanta never got past the second round of the playoffs with that nucleus.
With the decision to deal Johnson to the Brooklyn Nets last year, the Hawks made it clear that the roster wasn't working. The team still has additional quality pieces left in Horford and point guard Jeff Teague, but signing Smith to a max contract would effectively turn him into a franchise cornerstone for years.
From all indications, it seems like Atlanta prefers not to give Smith the max contract he desires, as the freed up salary cap space would allow the team to pursue other stars, such as Chris Paul or Dwight Howard. The Hawks can offer Smith a five-year deal as they carry his "Bird Rights," giving them an inherent advantage over other teams in signing him.
Trade rumors have picked up in recent weeks regarding the forward, including a possible deal with Brooklyn, but nothing substantial has come together yet. He continues to play quite well for Atlanta despite the rumors, as SB Nation's Hawks blog, Peachtree Hoops, notes.