Josh Smith “frustrated” with Hawks, future in doubt
The Atlanta Hawks who once started off hot have spiraled to a seven game loss in the last nine games and Josh Smith, who’s in the last year of his contract is frustrated over the team’s direction. The Atlanta Hawks an all-time low this season in a humiliating 97-58 loss to the Chicago Bulls Monday night. The Chicago Bulls managed to keep the Atlanta Hawks to only five points in the second quarter, and after the game coach Larry Drew promised changes that would “shake things up” in Atlanta.
After trading away the high-priced All-Star Joe Johnson to the Brooklyn Nets in the offseason, the Atlanta Hawks have cleared $36 million in cap space that could be vital towards revamping the roster. Josh Smith could become the first victim of a dark twist on his own desire to foresee some changes in Atlanta.
But Wallace Prather contested that the meeting wasn’t about “pushing a trade” for Josh Smith. Although he acknowledged there were plenty of teams interested in the versatile forward at this point ahead of the 21 Feb. trade deadline.
"As far as moving forward and whatever changes will be made,” said Wallace Prather, “that's more so management's job to field those calls and make the decisions they feel like are best to move forward.”
The Atlanta Hawks have reportedly been assessing the interest on Josh Smith by putting the 27-year-old on the block and holding discussions behind closed doors.
The trade rumors come on the day Josh Smith’s one-game suspension and an undisclosed fine for conduct detrimental to the team. Josh Smith missed Wednesday’s game against the Brooklyn Nets due to the suspension.
"Josh and I discussed the issue and he understood and accepted this course of action," said Danny Ferry. "We are confident that he will respond positively, learn from this experience and come back with a renewed sense of purpose to the team moving forward.”
Shortly afterwards, Josh Smith too released a statement apologizing to the team and fans and taking responsibility for his actions.
"Clearly I am competitive and was frustrated by our recent losses," said Josh Smith. "I understand and respect the team's actions and just want to get back on the court to do whatever is necessary to help my teammates. “
However, Josh Smith’s suspension puts his future with the Atlanta Hawks further in doubt given their new found financial flexibility and if Danny Ferry hopes to improve the team on the long-run. But it’s only possible on what a contending team – willing to pick up Josh Smith – is willing to offer in trade.
Josh Smith, who’s been averaging 16.5 points, 8.3 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game this season is at the end of a $13.2 million contract that will see him out as a restricted free agent.
Otherwise, the Atlanta Hawks could always have enough cap space to re-sign Smith and add pieces around him which could be part of the short term solution.