Hawks could face big decision with Josh Smith
ATLANTA (AP) — The Hawks could soon face a big decision with leading scorer Josh Smith, one of the most-discussed names in speculation leading up to the NBA trade deadline.
Smith, in his ninth season with his hometown Hawks, can become an unrestricted free agent after the season. That makes him a natural trade-deadline target, especially given general manager Danny Ferry's established willingness to part with big contracts.
Ferry, who traded Joe Johnson and Marvin Williams before the season, said Wednesday he's open to any opportunity that makes long-term sense for the team.
"We're in a unique situation right now with our current roster being competitive but also having potential cap space going forward," Ferry said. "Like most teams we're constantly evaluating ourselves and looking at the opportunities that may be out there to improve, whether that's through internal growth or externally through trades.
"If there's an opportunity that makes sense for the long-term interest of the Hawks, we'll certainly look into it. We'll definitely look into it."
Ferry wouldn't comment specifically on any talks with teams, including reports the Nets, Spurs and other teams have inquired about Smith.
The trade deadline is Feb. 21.
Smith, who had 30 points and 10 rebounds in the Hawks' 108-76 win at Orlando on Wednesday night, said he hasn't let the trade rumors interfere with his play.
"I've been playing well, so I guess my game speaks for that question," Smith said. "I'm not worried about any outside distractions, media, hearsay. I just try to come out and play my game and not worry about anything else."
He said this isn't the first season he's heard trade rumors.
"This is like the third or fourth year, so I'm kind of immune to it," he said.
The Hawks are sixth in the Eastern Conference. Their postseason outlook took a hit when guard Lou Williams sustained a season-ending knee injury last month.
The 27-year-old Smith is known for his powerful left-handed dunks and defensive big plays with steals and blocked shots. He leads the Hawks with his average of 17.1 points per game, and he is second to center Al Horford with 8.6 rebounds per game.
Smith set career highs with his averages of 18.8 points and 9.6 rebounds last season.
If he is not traded, Smith could be difficult to re-sign. Though he has never been an All-Star, he could ask for a maximum contract. The Hawks could offer five years and about $94 million, while other teams could offer up to about $70 million for four years.
Smith's Atlanta-based agent, Wallace Prather, said the Hawks and Smith agreed there would be no contract talks until after the season.
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