When the playoffs ended last season, Josh Smith was ready to say goodbye to Atlanta. The excitement he felt by the Hawks' postseason success (beating Orlando, throwing a scare into Chicago) was tempered by the anger of once again being the lightning rod for criticism, seemingly every time something went wrong.

The extreme ups and downs of his career with the Hawks had worn on him, just as it had worn on so many who watched him. As Smith put it, "When you've been in one place for a while, it crosses your mind: Maybe I want to get lost. Punch the GPS a few times.

"I've been here a long time. I've never lashed out at the organization. All I ask for sometimes is, when I raise my hand, maybe somebody can help me up, so I'm not always the person who's trying to [defend me from criticism]. It would be nice if somebody else said, 'This guy's a pretty good player.'"