When free agency opens tomorrow, there are a number of players that will be sought after by a wealth of teams with a big free agency war chest.
Most teams will be hoping that one of the home run free agents, either Chris Paul or Dwight Howard, will choose them, but most teams will be left holding a pretty sizable bag and will begin looking for someone to take it from them.
Enter Josh Smith, he of the nine year career with the Atlanta Hawks and an annually borderline All-Star player. Smith has consistently posted strong, across-the-board numbers, both in traditional counting stats and in the advanced metrics that's taking hold of many front offices across the NBA.
Then why don't the Hawks, a team with a few holes to fill, interested in locking him up? And why are many pundits, like CBS Sports' Matt Moore, talking as if signing Josh to a big contract is in-line with mega-free-agent busts like Charlie and Ben Gordon?
Some of it comes down to what Josh has shown to be a proclivity to shooting, by most experts, ill-advised jump shots. The more he shot, the more NBA watchers locked in on each individual cringe-worthy jump shot and it washed over myriad ways Smith was helping the Hawks win between 45-50 games a year.
But, now that it comes to filling out a roster, teams are seeing the numbers, the talent and the production that Smith brought to the floor and, according to ESPN, will have 5 or 6 teams seeking him out when free agency begins, including the Detroit Pistons.
Smith famously answered a question about being worth a max deal during last season, but it remains to be seen how much the 27 year old will merit when the bidding finally stops. He'll likely have to wait until Dwight Howard decides where he will sign on July 10 before the negotiations really heat up for his services.
The Hawks have not been mentioned specifically as one of the team, nor has there been any public interest in retaining Smith's services in Atlanta. The Hawks can sign Smith to the longest possible contract as the holder of his Larry Bird rights, a five year deal at 7.5% annual increases versus the 4 year, 4.5% annual increases that other teams can offer and can be offered in any sign and trade deal.
We posted the report last week that the Boston Celtics might also have been interested in a Smith deal, but it was likely dependent on the Hawks only getting a trade exception back from Boston and draft picks and it remains to be seen how the megadeal between Brooklyn and Boston impacts any interest in Smith.