Earlier this month, I posted a tweet on my Twitter account (@WalderSports) in which I praised the Atlanta Hawks for their successful start to the season (19-10 at the end of December) and their ability to remain under the radar, despite being just 1.5 games behind the Miami Heat.
— Christopher Walder (@WalderSports) January 2, 2013
Fast-forward a few weeks later, and things have taken a drastic turn for the worse.
The Hawks have lost seven of their last ten games and are slowly but surely falling down the conference ladder. Atlanta now sits 4.5 games out of first place and in the 6th seed, having allowed the Brooklyn Nets, New York Knicks, Indiana Pacers and Chicago Bulls to pass them overall.
To start the month of January, the team has dropped games to the lowly Cleveland Cavaliers, Detroit Pistons and Washington Wizards, who have a combined record of 32-85.
Josh Smith, the Hawks top scorer at 16.4 points, was suspended for one game earlier in the week for “conduct detrimental to the team“. He received a technical foul during Monday’s 97-58 blowout loss courtesy of the Bulls, and was clearly frustrated with the team’s performance during practice the following day, as Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported on Wednesday.
According to a source, Smith was kicked out of practice Tuesday. #ATLHawks
— Chris Vivlamore (@ajchawks) January 16, 2013
GM Danny Ferry needs to make a decision as it pertains to Smith’s future with the Atlanta Hawks organization, sooner rather than later.
Josh can become an unrestricted free-agent at the end of this season. If he has given/is giving the Hawks any hint that he won’t be re-signing, than Ferry needs to deal him before the February 21st deadline to get any value back in return.
According to a report by Ken Berger of CBS Sports, the Hawks could look to acquire an all-star before the deadline to pair up with Smith.
Depends on two things: 1) Whether Danny Ferry has a short-term plan or a long-term plan, and 2) whether Smith will be happy with whatever changes will be made this summer, be they personnel or on the coaching staff. One exec privy to Atlanta’s trade posture told me Ferry seems to be in “win now” mode, which suggests he’ll try to add an All-Star-caliber talent alongside Smith rather than trade him.
Atlanta is nowhere close to being out of the playoff hunt by any stretch of the imagination. Before this current losing skid, the Hawks were right there with Miami at the top of the standings. Perhaps acquiring another big-name talent to join Smith and teammate Al Horford could be just what this team needs to not only gain some ground in the east, but to finally make some noise once the postseason rolls through.
It all depends on what kind of offers Ferry gets thrown his way over the next few weeks. If he can find the right deal to help improve this roster while keeping Smith onboard and happy at the same time, then that would be the perfect outcome.
However, if the Hawks continue to struggle as they are, then perhaps cutting ties with Josh Smith and bringing in some young players/pieces/draft picks rather than risking him walking way a free man at the end of the current season is the best option moving forward.