Atlanta Hawks: On Josh Smith’s future

Before Josh Smith started his summer vacation, he was asked about the possibility of signing a contract extension with the Hawks.

“I can’t get extended,” Smith said. “They didn’t give me the money; I had to go get it. That’s something I have to play it out and see how it goes from there.”

Two things stand out about that statement. The first is that Smith, who presumably got the info from his agent, is wrong about his contract not being eligible for an extension.

I looked at Larry Coon’s CBA FAQ and could see no reason why Smith is not eligible for an extension. It’s been at least three years since he signed the deal, it’s never been renegotiated and it doesn’t include an opt-in. I checked with Coon and he confirmed the Hawks can extend Smith’s deal (they actually have been able to do so since August).

But the more interesting aspect of Smith’s statement is his allusion to having to “go get” his contract. He’s referring, of course, to the offer sheet he signed with Memphis in 2008, which Atlanta subsequently matched. (The Hawks can thank the Grizzlies for being able to keep Smith with a reasonable deal.)

It bothers Smith he had to create a market for himself to get a satisfactory contract from the Hawks (though at least he didn’t have to leave the country like Josh Childress). Smith’s feelings were amplified when Al Horford got an extension before becoming a restricted free agent. So add that 2008 contract dance to Smith’s list of grievances with the Hawks.

The question now is whether Smith can be persuaded to sign an extension with the Hawks. My educated guess is Smith won’t do it. The Hawks may be able to make Smith feel more appreciated with their public comments, but what can can do about Smith’s main gripe, that they aren’t committed to winning a championship?

It seems unlikely the Hawks will even spend the full mid-level on a free agent. Remember what happened after Smith, Horford and Joe Johnson called on the Hawks to make some major moves during training camp? The Hawks ended up signing an assortment of minimum-salaried free agents, with two of those players on non-guaranteed deals.

Nor do trades look like a very promising way to placate Smith. Any deal that involves sending away Horford could leave as many holes as it covers. If trading Johnson is possible, it almost certainly means taking back another burdensome contract.

Zaza Pachulia and Jeff Teague are assets because they are productive players with reasonable contracts. But those are also good reasons to keep them. As for Marvin Williams, there hasn’t been a market for him for going on three years now.

The irony is that one of the best ways for the Hawks to bring in a major piece is to trade Smith. His production, experience and expiring contract make him an attractive target. So does the sense that he’s still yet to fully reach his potential, though that’s a reality that cuts both ways for the Hawks.

Are the Hawks beyond hoping Smith can become a superstar for them? How much is he worth? If the Hawks don’t think they can persuade Smith to commit beyond next season, do they aggressively try to trade him before the deadline or risk losing him for nothing next summer?

I’m genuinely interested to see how all that plays out. The Hawks have a recent history of overvaluing their own players. Michael Gearon Jr. does have a deep appreciation for Smith, even if Smith doesn’t think Gearon or his partners have done enough to show it.

For his part, Smith deflected questions about his standing trade request, noting that he could be fined for talking about it. But he didn’t sound as if he expects to be traded in the offseason.

“All I know is I have one more year on my contract so I will definitely be here,” he said. “I just have to go into the offseason to better myself and do whatever I have to do to help this ballclub. I was an Atlanta Hawk after the trade deadline and I’m one now, so I have to look at some of the things I can do to help my basketball team win ballgames, especially in the postseason.”

Michael Cunningham, Hawks beat

1,015 comments Add your comment

Slimjr

May 25th, 2012
3:08 pm

1st again…

Slimjr

May 25th, 2012
3:11 pm

Mr Gearon Jr and Championships are like oil and vinegar the two shall never mix…

Josh is outta here..

Go get your picks or this ship will tank…

Najeh Davenpoop

May 25th, 2012
3:14 pm

Can’t blame Josh for feeling that way. I’d be pretty p-ssed if I was in his position and I saw a scrub like Marvin getting extended and paid more than half of what Josh makes.

Slimjr

May 25th, 2012
3:15 pm

“Before Josh Smith started his summer vacation, he was asked about the possibility of signing a contract extension with the Hawks.

“I can’t get extended,” Smith said. “They didn’t give me the money; I had to go get it. That’s something I have to play it out and see how it goes from there.” -Josh-

Go get your money Josh! Its nothing personal, just business…In the long run Gearon Jr wont miss you.

Melvin

May 25th, 2012
3:16 pm

I don’t blame Josh for not committing to an extension. Hold this sorry group of owners (ASG) feet to the fire. Can’t blame him for still feeling under appreciated from his first contract negotiations.

Sugar Ray

May 25th, 2012
3:18 pm

Good player, bad attitude. Time for change. Trade him to Phoenix for Gortat, Frye and a pick. Everyone’s happy.

Slimjr

May 25th, 2012
3:19 pm

It’s got to be tough to watch a guy half as talented as you keep getting invited to the AllStar game and make the All Whatever team while your left out of everything..What a joke that is..

Just Joe

May 25th, 2012
3:22 pm

This changes everything then. Hawks should definitely offer Smith a 4-yr extension based on 5% raises after this year ($13.9M in 13/14, $14.5M in 14/15, $15.3M in 15/16, and $16.0M in 16/17). That’s a 4-yr $60M extension, and carries Josh under contract for one year past Joe & Al.

If he turns that down, then you know there’s nothing we can do but trade him.

If he signs, then focus all of your attention on getting rid of Marvin & Joe.

Just my opinion.

Sugar Ray

May 25th, 2012
3:23 pm

Gortat – Zaza – Draft pick
Horford – Frye
Johnson – Williams
Draft pick – FA shooter
Teague – resign Pargo

Boom.

jim

May 25th, 2012
3:23 pm

I will never understand why everyone butcher’s the ASG. This year they had the 9th highest payroll and the 7th worst attendence. I blame the city of atlanta’s fans. You are probably the worst fans in the u.s.. i remember watching braves playoff games and thinking the fans were a joke. Just support your team. YOU the fan’s are probably why d12 won’t come there.

Slimjr

May 25th, 2012
3:23 pm

Heard a rumor that Mr. Fal-can’t Fanatic has left the building? So should we shed a tear or jump for joy? LMAO!

Sugar Ray

May 25th, 2012
3:27 pm

“It’s got to be tough to watch a guy half as talented as you keep getting invited to the AllStar game and make the All Whatever team while your left out of everything..What a joke that is..”

They were dead in the water until Al came back, no energy after the Game 2 chokejob. Most of their problems still come down to their bad offense, the bad offense is mostly about bad shot selection, and most of those bad shots are taken by Josh.

Slimjr

May 25th, 2012
3:29 pm

There he goes blaming the fans again…We’ve heard that tune before..

1-Championship in 155 combined seasons spread over almost half of one CENTURY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I propose that this City has the worst Professional Franchises in Pro-Sports history?

Sugar Ray

May 25th, 2012
3:31 pm

Some evidence about how Josh hurts the team:

http://www.hoopinionblog.com/2012/05/hickory-high-offensive-geometry.html

“The Hawks had some terrific offensive options at their disposal this season. They had strong spot up shooting from Kirk Hinrich, Willie Green, Joe Johnson, Jeff Teague and Marvin Williams. They also had two strong ball handlers in the pick-and-roll in Johnson and Teague. The performance of Teague was particularly impressive, averaging 0.93 points per possession in the pick-and-roll, well above the league average. Unfortunately 29.7% of their possessions in our data set went to Josh Smith in either isolations, spot-ups or post ups. Smith was an atrocious spot up shooter, scoring just 0.81 points per possession, well below the league average of 0.94. He was right around average on post ups and isolations, but again, nearly a third of the Hawks’ offensive possessions were being used on some of their least efficient outcomes.”

Remember kids, a dunk is still only worth two points.

Slimjr

May 25th, 2012
3:34 pm

Answer this, how did Josh hold it down while Mr one-handed dribbler was out of commission for 3 months hanging out with Camel toe?

kirkinga

May 25th, 2012
3:34 pm

Trade him to a Western team. The Hawks will not receive enough back to satisfy Smith’s most devoted fans, but they can get enough to help the team. The goal is always to help the team and not how to satisfy a player who is talented, but not a star.

Look at some of the teams in the playoffs who, on paper, do not have the talent level of the Hawks. We need a GM that can do the job for us. There will still be very good coaches available this time next year. If the Bobcats can talk to Sloan, then we should be able to find the right coach for the hawks.

The Hawks are at home now because they do not play hard all of the time. I’d love to see Josh stay and the Hawks to hire one of the Van Gundy brothers, but too late.

KevinM

May 25th, 2012
3:34 pm

I’d be pissed if I was Josh too. Sund treated Chills and Josh different than any other guys in this lineup. He groveled over Joe, Marvin, even frickin’ Bibby and Zaza and didn’t let any of them test the market. After year 1, I had Sund on my inept list and he hasn’t left it.

Josh should go test the market and be in control of where he wants to play. And he does sound like he’s moving on…..While once I was all for Josh, that was before LD came around. Josh’s value has not improved under LD.
” As for Marvin Williams, there hasn’t been a market for him for going on three years now.”

You can’t include him in any deal unless you take back a twice as bad deal. No one is fooled by Marvin’s limitations….except Sund.

All 3 could be dealt, and no one should complain because this trio has done very little to prove their worth. We haven’t even sniffed the potential to get past the 2nd round. So no stat Gearon and Sund comes up with should make anyone renew their tickets until serious changes have been made.

SteveW, are you listening? Its time to quit settling for this mediocrity…..Chik Fil-A 4 packs shouldn’t convince anyone to see this core play any more games together.

MC, is everything on hold waiting for Sund to make a decision? Aren’t deals able to be formulated after the draft lottery?

Dawg

May 25th, 2012
3:35 pm

I am so proud of the Hawks’ management, they have a well developed plan to get a championship and it is a pleasure to watch this well run organization work toward that goal.

prison mike

May 25th, 2012
3:40 pm

“As for Marvin Williams, there hasn’t been a market for him for going on three years now.”

Whoa there MC, there are Duck enthusiasts that would put on their cape and find you where you lay.
As for Josh, he wants to play with a pure point or in the limelight. Nothing the team can offer him right now.

KevinM

May 25th, 2012
3:40 pm

Is anyone else enjoying these blogs more now that we know that Bogut is on the West Coast and Jon Leuer is no longer demanding a trade? :)

Slimjr

May 25th, 2012
3:40 pm

Gearon Jr is the reason why D12 wont come here Genius……

“Crack is Whack” Whitney Houston- Rip

cp

May 25th, 2012
3:41 pm

He doesnt want to be here. Better to trade him now and get some value for him rather than watching him walk for nothing.

Slimjr

May 25th, 2012
3:42 pm

insert [banging Camel toe]^^^^

cp

May 25th, 2012
3:42 pm

So not having a pure point guard is one reason Josh doesnt want to be here? lol I like Josh but some of the excuses made for this dude is beyond comical.

Sugar Ray

May 25th, 2012
3:43 pm

“Answer this, how did Josh hold it down while Mr one-handed dribbler was out of commission for 3 months hanging out with Camel toe?”

Torn pec knocks out most football players (who are tougher than NBA players) for their entire season, like Mario Williams last season. Based on the numbers, Josh had a slightly better season, but we’re not talking about superstar numbers – he wasn’t even averaging 20-10. If you read what I posted above, it’s obvious how they survived: They had great shooters. Sund did an underrated job of filling out the roster, whether we like him or not. Hawks lost to the Celtics because they didn’t have enough in the paint for the entire series, so KG went off on both ends. If they had Horford and Zaza from the start, they probably win.

KevinM

May 25th, 2012
3:47 pm

I wonder if Josh pre-LD is still in that uniform or has he been put away forever?

kwooden

May 25th, 2012
3:48 pm

My plan right now would be to:
1) Trade Marvin for Biedrins straightup (Salaries seem to match well enough and the Warriors save 9mil the following season)
2) Draft a SF 1st round and PF 2nd round (I like Jeff Taylor at SF and Drew Gordon or Mike Scott at PF)
3) Then pickup either JJ Hickson, Marreese Speights or Ersan Ilyasova with part of the Mid-level
4) Extend Smoove from somewhere around 12M for 5years

This will put the HAWKS about where they are now and give them next year and the year after to see Horford, JJ and Josh play together. If it isn’t working at that point then amnesty JJ and start rebuilding.

cp

May 25th, 2012
3:50 pm

@kwooden. I hope Drew Gordon is available in the second round when we pick. I like Harkless over Taylor though. I might even take Quincy Miller over Taylor although Miller is very raw.

Slimjr

May 25th, 2012
3:50 pm

Josh played some of the best basketball in the country during that Feb-Mar stint..

The Hawks missed ZaZa more in that Celtic series than All Whatever..

I do agree, with both suited up going into the series Hawks win probably in 5..

Sugar Ray

May 25th, 2012
3:53 pm

kwooden, where are they going to get all of that money? Also, Josh makes over 12M now and will probably want (and get) more as a FA from some team, which would put the Hawks over the cap if it’s them. Sorry but like MC said in the blog, only way to improve is one of the big money players has to get dealt.

Slimjr

May 25th, 2012
3:54 pm

After Josh is gone, I would shop Joe..And even shop All along with Marvin…

Sugar Ray

May 25th, 2012
4:00 pm

“Josh played some of the best basketball in the country during that Feb-Mar stint..

The Hawks missed ZaZa more in that Celtic series than All Whatever..”

Josh played well during that stretch, but overall, it was marginally better than what he usually does. Just check out his career stats year by year, not much changed. That’s not worth all the talk as if he is irreplacable. And that’s before you consider that he said he doesn’t want to be here.

I don’t understand the hatred for Al. Many of the things he does do not show up in the box scores, unselfish plays for other teammates, and he clearly lit a fire under the team when he returned. Josh has been in the league 8-9 years and it took this long for him to tap into his potential, and he is still blaming everyone else for things that go wrong (All Star snubs, Hawks fans not being as passionate as Celtics fans, not getting enough shots even though he takes a lot of terrible shots, etc). We don’t hear those things coming from Horford, who is clearly a more efficient, team-oriented player.

IceColdATLien

May 25th, 2012
4:05 pm

I can understand why he feels the way he does, but he isn’t the 1st pro athlete to have a “woe-is-me” attitude and think they’re not being taken care of by ownership/management. So there’s hardly a story there.

For me, my biggest gripe about him is how uncoachable he seems to be. It blows me away that he’s so dense that he won’t stop shooting long jumpers (at a higher rate than anyone in the NBA not named Kobe) even in the face of hitting only 32% of them. There’s no question that 2 different staffs over 6 years have been unable to convince him to abandon the long Js. Unless they’re enforcers (like my man Ivan) then I don’t want any thick-skulled players.

On that note, I pray to the basketball gods that Sund (or whoever is there) is able to parlay “Smoove” (I hate it when players conjure their own nicknames) into a top-10 center such as maybe Chandler or even an aging Gasol (Hawks’ current window is only open for 2-3 more yrs anyway)… move Horford back to his natural 4… move Joe to the 3 spot… and suddenly the Hawks have one of the best frontcourts in the league. Of course, prayers are just that when talking about Hawks ownership and front office.

JOE

May 25th, 2012
4:06 pm

If you are a Josh Smith fan, then I understand the bias. But from a basketball perspective and wanting to remove distractions and selfishness from a locker room, you take Horford. It’s like the difference between Carmelo and Durant — both have talent, you can win with either to some extent, but the intangibles are what separate them. One is a whiner, the other is a leader. One makes as many bad plays as good good plays during a game, the other stays in his lane and the team benefits.

Hawks Blog Legend Worldwide Clyde

May 25th, 2012
4:07 pm

In other words we need to trade Josh Smith. Get something for him before its too late.

IceColdATLien

May 25th, 2012
4:07 pm

SugarRay, only non-basketball folk hate on Horford. For me, comments against Al separate bloggers who know Bball from the knuckleheads who just like to hear their own voice (or, in this case, read their own words).

prison mike

May 25th, 2012
4:08 pm

If you have never played with a point guard before, of course you would want to start some day. This is pretty much common sense.
If I’m athletic and a few inches from 7 feet… HELLO I WOULD LIKE A PLAYER THAT CAN GET ME IN POSITION TO SCORE.

Richard Denson

May 25th, 2012
4:10 pm

My plan would be to:
1) Give Josh Smith 4 yr $59 million extension
2) Amnesty Marvin Williams
3) Draft SF in 1st Round. PF in 2nd Round (Moe Harkless at SF; Drew Gordon or Mike Scott at PF)
4) Sign Chris Kaman, Omer Asik or Spencer Hawes in Free Agency with either the mid-level or the money gained back from Marvin’s contract
5) Re-sign Willie Green, Ivan Johnson, Jason Collins and Pargo (or trade for Eric Bledsoe)
6) Training camp and summer league invitees fill out the roster.

darrell starks

May 25th, 2012
4:10 pm

MC – Hawks can’t worry about Josh, let him walk if he decide 2, can’t keep going back and forth with players if not happy.

Bring in a center and move Horford 2 PF and Josh 2 SF

Hawks would be a good team only if LD come to his sense.

GO HAWKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The Real Hawk

May 25th, 2012
4:13 pm

Until the present owners sell I will not pay for another game.

Ra'mon

May 25th, 2012
4:13 pm

MC, how could trading Horford leave as many holes? The Hawks just finished playing a season in where they ended up with just as good of a record and playoff position without Horford as they get with him. So if Horford brought back a high production player, or 2-3 good production players, then how would the Hawks be left with as many holes as they had this past season? If you subtract Al, Kirk, and Marvin from last season’s team, that’s over $25 million lower in salary cap, and you still have a great chance to produce the same type of record (look at the drop off in production in Teague, Pargo, and Green when Kirk returned). So trading Al should very well be on the table (especially if there’s anyway to include Marvin with him).

darrell starks

May 25th, 2012
4:14 pm

I like this team now as constructed.

STARTER TEAGUE, JOE, JOSH, HORFORD, ZAZA

BENCH PARGO, TMAC, MARVIN, IVAN, COLLINS

RESERVE GREEN, VLAD, ?

GO HAWKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Rod from College Park

May 25th, 2012
4:14 pm

“I don’t understand the hatred for Al. Many of the things he does do not show up in the box scores, unselfish plays for other teammates, and he clearly lit a fire under the team when he returned.”

I am not an Al hater, but please help me understand what he does that does not sow up in the boxscore. What unselfish things are you referring to? Any warm body with a pulse would have ignited the Hawks. They were undermanned and injured. If Zaza came back, he would have lit a fire also. The facts are Al really does nothing better than Josh, but shoot a 15 foot jumper at a higher percentage.

Buddy Grizzard

May 25th, 2012
4:16 pm

As I said in my open letter to Josh, I don’t blame him for wanting to leave. Just don’t compare Hawks fans to Celtics fans. Celtics win championships. Hawks get bounced in the first round and call it success.

Rod from College Park

May 25th, 2012
4:16 pm

“But from a basketball perspective and wanting to remove distractions and selfishness from a locker room, you take Horford.”

Please inform me what distractions and selfishness you witnessed in the locker room? So the best rebounder, best defender, and one of the top assist men on the team is selfish?

Glenn

May 25th, 2012
4:17 pm

Josh makes to many bone headed plays . Ya know the fade away jump shot in the final possessions of the Celtic game , Love the guys D but still . If we could trade him for a decent player with a mean streak that would be fine . The Hawks have talent they are just to soft . Jerry Sloan would have been the perfect coach for this team . We pretty much lost Josh when we gave JJ that silly contract . I would like to see JJ work on throwing elbows in the offseason if he is serious about helping this team .

Ra'mon

May 25th, 2012
4:22 pm

Once again, I ask why are we ok with settling for cheering for a team that isn’t committed to winning a championship? Shouldn’t this be the make or break off season for us as fans to tell ownership put up or goodbye? In the eastern conference playoffs, each team appears to be more in a championship mind and committed than the Hawks. Even on this blog, just about every one who has posted on this blog in the last two days, have been posting on Hawks blogs since before Al Harrington was traded.

Paddy

May 25th, 2012
4:23 pm

jim…..yea, thats the answer, blame the Atl fans. No team is due respect if it is not earned. Who in their right mind would spend money with the ASG? Have you not watched these bozo’s long enough to know how they view professional sport? No jim, it is not the fans fault this team is where it is today. No talented free agent would ever put the Hawks on their final list of teams to sign with. The ed is in sight for this ownership group. They are lame ducks and will not spend the money on players or a top rated coach. I feel for coach Drew. He has been handed a hand he can’t win.

Sugar Ray

May 25th, 2012
4:23 pm

Rod from College Park,

Let’s take what you suggested then, making the 15 ft jumpers. Read my above post from 3:31pm on here, it has stats to back up what the Hawks/Josh’s problems were (and have always been) – bad shot selection. Most coaches would rather have a guy who plays to his strengths, instead of someone is clearly not playing the right way (taking a lot of bad shots) and let it hurt the team.

Also, for others who have mentioned it, the lack of PG excuse doesn’t work. Teague had a very good season in his first year as a starter, yet the Hawks still had issues on offense because the same guys keep going ISO and taking bad shots. Offense has always been the Hawks downfall in the postseason.

prison mike

May 25th, 2012
4:30 pm

We had injuries to position least afforded to. We are not in a situation where Joe is 35, Josh and Al are both 31 and Teague is 27.
We are in position to make some trades for draft picks or other players (DH). Solid big men in both rounds.