The Atlanta Hawks seem to prefer trading Josh Smith rather than risk losing him for nothing in the offseason. The Hawks have all but said that they don’t plan on giving Smith the max contract he feels that he deserves, and are determined to deal him at this point.
Smith is obviously getting attention from multiple teams, including the Brooklyn Nets and Washington Wizards. The initial offers to the Hawks have been lowball proposals, which is a common practice, but the trade deadline is this week so things should heat up.
If Smith is in fact traded, whichever team lands him will be burdened with the task of convincing him to sign an extension this summer. To land him but only see him become a rental could be looked at as a giant front office mistake, so teams need to be careful in what they’re willing to offer for him. This is similar to the Dwight Howard situation with the Orlando Magic and we see how all of that has turned out for the Lakers so far.
Smith hasn’t said what teams he would and wouldn’t sign an extension with, and I suspect if a team is willing to give Smith the money he wants he won’t have much of an issue signing wherever he ends up. The truth is most of the teams with money are not the top tier NBA franchises, so to get paid he will have to go to a lesser team or have a top tier team get rid of talent to make room for his contract.
The bigger question is, does Josh Smith deserve a max contract? This season he is averaging 17.4 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 4.1 assists per game in the 2012 – 2013 season. Over his career he has averaged 15.2 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 3.2 assists per game, which don’t really look like max contract numbers. Smith’s numbers are strong, but he has a limited game away from the basket and that hasn’t changed much over his career. Add in a career free throw percentage of 66% and you don’t have a complete all around star.
Smith may get his max contract because he is a good player, and teams are desperate for a player with his talents. The problem is will that team ever get close to winning a championship as the Atlanta Hawks never did even with a roster full of talent. Smith could get to his new team and mail it in since NBA contracts are guaranteed, so a “Dwightmare” type situation is possible.