Josh Smith is unlikely to sign a contract extension with the Atlanta Hawks before the end of the season. While that might sound harsh its not surprising and is expected. Simply put, Smith stands to make more money and receive a longer contract once he becomes a free agent. If he signed now the maximum length of the deal would be just three years or two less than the five-year deal he can ink after becoming an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.
After reportedly requesting a trade for the last couple of seasons, Smith now apparently is interested in staying with Atlanta according to Hawks general manager Danny Ferry:
"I've been clear that I value Josh as a player," Ferry told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "He has worked hard this summer and I believe he is going to have great season. I've been in contact with his representatives. Josh and his representatives have been clear that he is excited about the direction of the team and wants to be part of the future in Atlanta. That being said, I don't expect the contract situation to be resolved until next summer."
By not agreeing to an extension before the season, Smith risks injury but will command much more money on the open market after the season. Atlanta will be able to give Smith a longer contract than any other potential suitor but multiple bidders could help drive the price tag up. If you remember Joe Johnson rejected an extension offer from the Hawks before resigning with the club after becoming an unrestricted free agent and it is the same situation that fellow free agent to be Dwight Howard is in with the Lakers.
No doubt the Hawks would like to get Smith's name on an extension now but the chances are remote at best. Atlanta has positioned themselves to have ample amounts of cap room available at the end of the season the question remains however how much of that room they will be willing to devote to Josh Smith whose free agency will be a storyline throughout the upcoming season.