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NBA AM: The Future Of Josh Smith In Atlanta
Posted By Lang Greene On September 26, 2012 @ 6:42 am In All,Main Page,NBA | No Comments
Hawks GM Expects Big Things From Josh Smith In 2013
The Atlanta Hawks traded six-time All-Star guard Joe Johnson to the Brooklyn Nets this past summer in a move designed to give the franchise more financial flexibility going forward. The deal was one of newly hired president of basketball operations and general manager Danny Ferry’s first moves at the helm. The other was sending starting small forward Marvin Williams to the Utah Jazz in exchange for former All-Star guard Devin Harris.
The message was clear. Despite five consecutive trips to the postseason, the Hawks are now in the beginning stages of an alternative plan designed to get the franchise out of the dreaded ‘middle of the pack’ and into the ranks of the league’s elite.
Naturally with Johnson’s exit, the speculation has now turned toward power forward Josh Smith’s future with the organization. Smith will be an unrestricted free agent and one of the league’s most coveted targets next summer. The rumors involving Smith and his future with the organization have a bit of validity as the veteran demanded a trade from the Hawks – before the arrival of Ferry.
Since arriving to town Ferry has routinely praised Smith’s game and the forward’s ability to cause havoc on both ends of the court.
“Josh is a good player,” Ferry said. “I’ve said that from the day I got here. The thing I like about Josh’s game is that he can be a game changer defensively. Offensively he’s capable of scoring and he’s a very good passer. I like [how] offensively he can [grab] the rebound and take the ball up the court. It throws the other team off balance a little bit when guys can do that.”
Smith’s contract status with the club beyond the upcoming season will be an ongoing storyline for the team to deal with throughout the campaign, especially since talks of an extension between both parties are unlikely to transpire until next summer.
For the time being, Ferry’s focus is on providing Smith with the necessary internal team support to push the forward to the next level – an All-Star level.
“He’s had a really strong career so far,” Ferry said. “Let’s see if we can take it to another level. (Head coach) Larry [Drew] will push him and I will push him to go from really good to that next level.”
In the Johnson deal, Ferry managed to save the franchise roughly $90 million in future salary in exchange for little to no long term returning financial obligations. The team currently has only $18.5 million in guaranteed contracts on the books for next season, which means the franchise could be major players in free agency in the summer of 2013.
However, Ferry is quick to point out free agency is only one part of the equation the Hawks will utilize in their blueprint for competing for a NBA title.
“Going forward there are several roadmaps we can take and there’s three ways to get players,” Ferry said. “Strong drafts, free agency and trades. I think in all of those areas we’re in a good position going forward to put ourselves in a situation where we can be good for a long time as well as win the NBA championship. That’s certainly my focus.”
While the cap space next summer is promising, the reality is the Hawks will also enter the season with at least ten guys in the midst of a contract year and that number doesn’t include head coach Larry Drew who is also in the final year of his deal.
The potential for locker room turmoil due to the number of players having so much on the line cannot be underestimated. Ferry believes the high character of the guys facing uncertain futures beyond this season will hold the line and avert any negativity while using their respective situations as a motivational tool.
“I think that it can help you as well,” Ferry said speaking to the benefit of having guys in contract seasons. “Guys are coming in good shape and ready to roll. Along with that, I think they’re good guys. I think the chemistry part of it will unfold pretty well. Kyle Korver, Anthony Morrow and Devin Harris. It’s a good group of guys, with veterans who’ve been around.”
Despite the loss of Johnson, many believe the team still has enough talent to pursue a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Ferry stopped short of placing a lofty goal, like a postseason berth, on his revamped roster, but does firmly believe the club should be competitive on a nightly basis at the very least.
“Our depth is going to be good,” Ferry said. “We’re going to have some speed and we’re going to be able to shoot the basketball. I do expect us to be very competitive this year.”
Wizards’ Nene Out For Training Camp, Back By Season Opener?
The Washington Wizards gave up promising young talents JaVale McGee and Nick Young to acquire center Nene from the Denver Nuggets in a trade deadline deal back in February. The reason for the deal was to surround point guard John Wall with a cast of veterans who know how to play the game.
However, Nene appeared in just eleven games after arriving in Washington nursing an assortment of injuries and it appears the veteran will need additional time to heal heading into training camp this season.
Wizards’ president Ernie Grunfeld says the center could miss all of preseason because of plantar fasciitis in his left foot.
“He hasn’t had must time to rest this summer because of the commitment he had to his national team,” Grunfeld told Gene Wang of the Washington Post. “So we’re going to be very, very cautious. We’re going to take it very slow with him and make sure he’s 100 percent when we put him out there full time.”
Nene signed a five-year $67 million deal last December with the Nuggets before being dealt and it appears the Wizards are taking a very cautious approach to their prized investment. The Wizards compiled a 7-4 mark with Nene in the lineup last season.
Nene played for his native Brazil during the 2012 Olympics averaging 7 rebounds in four contests.
As of now, the goal is for Nene to be ready for the season opener despite missing some or all of training camp.
“We expect him to be ready for the regular season, for sure,” Grunfeld said. “But we will be very cautious with him.”
Celtics’ Jason Terry Targeting The Miami HEAT And Los Angeles Lakers
Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers has been adamant all summer that he wants his team to develop a level of resentment of their rivals who are also in position to compete for a NBA title.
It appears veteran guard Jason Terry has fully bought into Rivers’ message and is ready to unleash his knack for clutch shots and high scoring in his first season as a Celtic.
“My mission is to kill,” Terry told Chris Forsberg of ESPN Boston. “Whoever that is, whether it’s the Heat, whether it’s the Lakers. Hopefully both. That’s my mission and that’s what I’m here to do.”
Terry signed a three-year deal worth $15.7 million with the Celtics this past summer. One of the reasons which helped seal the deal was the presence of Rivers roaming the sideline.
“Doc is one of the best coaches we have in this league today. He’ll go down in history as one of the best,” Terry said. “Obviously, he was a player and he played at a high level and he’s well-respected among all the players in the league. He’s a guy that I wanted to play for. I played for him, it was probably 2000, 2001, in the Goodwill Games and we won a gold medal. Our relationship is pretty easy. And he was the first one to call me. When Doc calls, you answer. And I’m just happy to be here.”
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