Josh Smith ‘unlikely’ to re-sign with Hawks
by Jeff Zillgitt, USA TODAY Sports
Josh Smith is staying home — in Atlanta with the Hawks. For the time being.
The Atlanta native and subject of intense trade discussions was not dealt Thursday, and he will play the rest of the season for the Hawks, who are 29-23 and in sixth place in the Eastern Conference.
On Thursday, Smith said Atlanta will be on his list of teams he considers when he becomes a free agent. However, all politics is local. The Atlanta native does not want to irritate the home fans, but a person familiar with Smith’s plans told USA TODAY Sports that it is “highly unlikely” that Smith re-signs with Atlanta. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the private nature of the negotiations.
Smith, 27, had been the top player projected to be traded with an expiring contract that will play him $13.2 million this season.
He averages 17.2 points and 8.6 rebounds for the Hawks. In his nine seasons, all in Atlanta, he has averaged 15.2 points and eight rebounds.
Hawks general manager Danny Ferry has been remaking the team’s roster since taking over in June. A month ago had nine contracts that expire after 2012-13 and nearly $40 million dollars under the salary cap headed into 2013-14.
Ferry, unsure if the Hawks wanted to re-sign Smith or if Smith wanted to re-sign in the offseason, searched for a deal, trying to get some value in exchange for Smith before he left the team as a free agent this summer.
The Brooklyn Nets, Phoenix Suns, Boston Celtics, Washington Wizards and Milwaukee Bucks were among teams that had at least cursory discussions with Atlanta.
Milwaukee remained in the conversation close to the 3 p.m. ET deadline Thursday, but ultimately the Hawks were not swayed by the Bucks’ offer.
Now, Atlanta will head into the offseason with the possibility of getting very little for Smith. The Hawks could trade him at the June draft, but no team will trade for Smith unless they are sure he re-signs.
That makes a team like the Houston Rockets or Denver Nuggets thrilled. Smith can earn a max contract … [For more on Josh Smith 'unlikely' to re-sign with Hawks, click here.]