The Atlanta Hawks have lost three of their last four games and can't quite seem to capture the high level of play they displayed early in the season. To make matters worse, the status of dynamic forward Josh Smith continues to be a source of rumors and debat surrounding the team.
Smith, who is making $13.2 million in the final year of his contract this season, figures to be one of the top unrestricted free agents on the market next season. Smith is averaging 16.9 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2.2 blocks and 4.0 assists per game this season while shooting 45 percent. He's one of the league's top defensive players and he's spent his entire career with the Atlanta Hawks, though he hasn't always been happy about that. Smith was suspended by the team earlier this season for conduct detrimental to the team.
NBA.com's David Aldridge reports in the latest chatter involving Smith that the forward turned down a recent three-year contract offer for around $47 million, which would be a max deal under the new CBA rules. Smith is looking for a longer deal and appears willing to look elsewhere to get it. The Hawks are reluctant to tie up too much of their future salary cap in Smith, which leaves them with a big decision to make regarding the handling of his cap space going forward.
Yet the Hawks have not formally decided to trade the 27-year-old Smith, who leads Atlanta in scoring and blocked shots, and is second in rebounds and assists. Team president of basketball operations and general manager Danny Ferry is in fact-finding mode now, seeing what the market is for Smith.
While Ferry is entertaining offers for Smith, he doesn't have to make a final decision by the trade deadline later this month. Ferry could still trade Smith after the season, although the team may just want to let the long-time Hawk walk without adding any more salary, which would give Ferry around $40 million in cap space to work with this summer.