Whether Danny Ferry's decision to hang onto Josh Smith at the trade deadline was the correct move won't likely be answered until during the offseason. That won't prevent it from being debated over the final months of the season.
Some are saying that Ferry did what he had to do and was right to not accept a sub par package in return or one that could cut into the cap room that Atlanta could have this offseason. Others will say allowing Smith to walk at the end of the season potentially for nothing is more damaging to a franchise that is in the midst of retooling.
CBS Sports' Eye on Basketball crew weighs in on the subject as they debate Atlanta and Utah's position for standing pat at the deadline. They present some compelling points for both sides of the argument but I want to focus on this passage by Royce Young:
I don't like what the Hawks did. Josh Smith isn't a valuable asset like a Carmelo Anthony or Deron Williams, but he would require solid return. And while, yes, they're going to have cap space this summer and will likely try to target Dwight Howard with it, the reality is this: The best free agent other than Howard or Chris Paul -- both of whom aren't going to Atlanta -- is probably Josh Smith.
So what will happen is one of two things: 1) The Hawks let Smith walk somewhere else for literally nothing or 2) they re-sign him but overpay him. I suppose this really comes down to an organizational confidence kind of thing. If you believe in the Hawks to make the right decisions with their money, then it's not so bad. But seeing as they're the franchise that gave Joe Johnson $120 million because they were backed into a corner, you can see how I might not have much faith.
Not sure if Royce is aware or not because sometimes the media doesn't pay that much attention to the Hawks but the man that handed Joe Johnson that famous (infamous?) contract is no longer calling the shots. All Danny Ferry has done since he arrived is clear the deck of Johnson and Marvin Williams and is looking for financial flexibility. Hawks fans have no reason to doubt Ferry yet but as the AJC's Jeff Schultz wrote earlier this week, Ferry is still cleaning up other people's mess.
On the other side of the coin, Sean Highkin nails it in this piece for Hardwood Paroxysm when it comes to Atlanta's options for Smith. No matter how unlikely it is, the Hawks won't give up on the Dwight Howard scenario until he re-signs with the Lakers or another team. If Howard sours on Los Angeles then the Hawks will be right there waiting.
Even more likely though Atlanta can let the market settle for Smith who is eligible for a 4-year $70 million dollar deal from the rest of the league. The Hawks can offer as much as 5-years and $94 million but may not be inclined to go quite so high. If the bidding for Smith goes northward then teams like the Houston Rockets can solicite Atlanta's help in a sign and trade that could be mutual to all parties.
The most important thing was that Ferry didn't settle and didn't deviate from his plan because he didn't have to.