I’m at a loss for words.
Not because my tongue is tied or anything, but because over the past several weeks, I’ve wasted every word in my vocabulary writing article after article on Atlanta Hawks forward Josh Smith and the 1000 teams he was rumored to be headed to before yesterday’s Trade Deadline.
Smith was linked to the Brooklyn Nets, Milwaukee Bucks, Detroit Pistons, San Antonio Spurs, Boston Celtics, Phoenix Suns and just about every other team you can think of.
Guess what? He didn’t go anywhere.
Josh Smith is still an Atlanta Hawk.
After all of this “will they, won’t they” trade talk, the Hawks actually decided to hold on to their disgruntled star?
“We value Josh,” – Hawks GM Danny Ferry (ESPN.com)
“We weighed the positives and negatives of each of our opportunities and at the end of the day, we felt like the best decision was to stand pat based off some of the things we were looking at,”
Smith doesn’t seem to have a problem with sticking around a little while longer.
“It’s not all that bad,” Smith said. “I’m playing my dream job. I’m just blessed with the opportunity to be able to be a part of a special time. A lot of guys came through this league and played for the Hawks and other teams that I grew up idolizing, so it’s definitely a blessing just to be here.”
He currently leads Atlanta with averages of 17.1 points and 2.1 blocks per game. He’s second on the team with 8.6 rebounds and 4.2 assists.
Reports suggest that Josh may demand a max-deal when he becomes an unrestricted free-agent at the end of the season.
Instead of trading Smith and getting some accumulation of assets in return when they had a chance, the Hawks are going to try their luck in free-agency and hopefully convince Josh to sign a new deal.
SPOILER ALERT: It’s going to take an arm and a leg to convince Josh Smith to re-sign.
I’m not entirely sure how many teams would be willing to give him a max contract, but regardless of that, I’m positive Josh will be one of the most highly sought-after commodities on the market this summer.
He’s that good.
He’s not necessarily a guy you want as your number one option on offense, but he’s a building block for bigger and better things, especially for teams who are a couple of key pieces away from contending for an NBA Championship.
If Atlanta seriously wants to keep Josh, then they’re going to have to offer a max-deal, plain and simple. They have the luxury of being able to offer five years and about $94 million, while other teams could offer up to about $70 million for four years.
Money always talks, but will that be enough?
I doubt it.
Being able to make your own decisions about where you want to play is a very powerful thing. With Josh Smith, the Hawks are a middle-of-the-pack playoff team in the Eastern Conference, with no real shot at ever knocking off the top dogs that look down upon them.
Smith is a tremendous talent, with incredible length and athleticism, but he’s not getting any better. He is what he is.
Can he take the Atlanta Hawks to the promise land?
He hasn’t done it yet, so why hold on to that pipe dream?
Atlanta probably got low-balled on a bunch of potential offers. Other teams around the league smelled blood, offering up the bare minimum in exchange for the Hawks superstar.
Still, it’s better to guarantee yourself something then end up with nothing a couple of months down the road.
I could be wrong. Maybe Josh does re-sign with the Hawks. I, along with 80% of the league, believed he was going to be out the door at 3:00 pm yesterday afternoon.
The NBA Trade Deadline was the perfect time to make something happen. Stir things up. Make a move. Cut ties with Josh, get what you can and start anew.
There is nothing wrong with throwing in the towel once in a while, especially when it’s for the long-term benefit of your roster.
If Smith walks in July, you can direct all of the blame at Danny Ferry.
He had his chance. He didn’t make a move.
Time will tell.