Josh Smith is staying home — in Atlanta with the Hawks. For the time being. The Atlanta native and subject of intense trade discussions was not dealt Thursday, and he will play the rest of the season for the Hawks, who are 29-23 and in sixth place in the Eastern Conference. On Thursday, Smith said Atlanta will be on his list of teams he considers when he becomes a free agent. However, all politics is local. The Atlanta native does not want to irritate the home fans, but a person familiar with Smith's plans told USA TODAY Sports that it is "highly unlikely" that Smith re-signs with Atlanta. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the private nature of the negotiations. Smith, 27, had been the top player projected to be traded with an expiring contract that will pay him $13.2 million this season. But after considering trade proposals from several teams, including a down-to-the-wire offer from the Milwaukee Bucks, Hawks general manager Danny Ferry decided to keep Smith. Ferry, unsure if the Hawks wanted to re-sign Smith or if Smith wanted to re-sign in the offseason, searched for a deal, trying to get some value in exchange for Smith. Ultimately, Ferry didn't like the offers he received. "We value Josh," Ferry told NBA TV. "He's been important to our program here the last several years, and I've enjoyed working with him this year. He's an important part of this team, and we look forward to finishing the year well with him." Smith averages 17.2 points and 8.6 rebounds for the Hawks. In his nine seasons, all in Atlanta, he has averaged 15.2 points and eight rebounds. Ferry has been remaking the team's roster since taking over in June. The team is nearly $40 million under the salary cap headed into the offseason and has seven contracts that expire after 2012-13. Atlanta also has team options on two other players. That is significant money to spend on next season's payroll. Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard and Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul are the expected centerpieces of the 2013 free-agent class, but luring either player to Atlanta will be difficult. Ferry will try, especially in regards to Howard, who like Smith, is from Atlanta. Expect Ferry to go after Howard aggressively.
Josh Smith 'unlikely' to re-sign with Hawks
USA Today | Feb 22