In the 2013 free agent class, Dwight Howard is the king of the class. No one is quite sure what his summer plans are (although he might). Chris Paul too is set to become a free agent, but many assume he will stay with the Clippers. Same goes for Paul Pierce and the Celtics.
Andre Iguodala and Andrew Bynum are free agents too, but their marketability is in question with Iguodala's best role still undefined and Bynum being injured.
The player who may end up being the most sought after free agent this summer is Josh Smith, and he might be taking himself off the market.
Last week, while Atlanta was in Miami, Josh Smith addressed his future and seemed to suggest he was pretty content in Atlanta and happy with what the only team he has ever played for has done to solidify their roster even after trading Joe Johnson.
Josh Smith, long thought to be a little discontented in Atlanta, appears comfortable with where he is at and willing to sign long term this summer to remain in his hometown.
I never said one time that I wanted to leave Atlanta," Smith told Chris Tomasson of Fox Sports Florida. "It was always rumors and things. The moves that they made (last summer) and the success that we're having, I am excited about what is going with this organization and I am considering strongly staying here. I haven't ever had any thoughts that I wanted to leave.
This is really the first time Smith has said anything concrete about his future. It certainly seems that this fresh new commitment to Atlanta -- silence might as well mean you are leaving in this day an age -- is a product of both talking with new general manager Danny Ferry and the team's surprising 14-7 start.
The Hawks thought they were taking a step back for the bigger plans. And that is what Ferry has likely sold Smith on.
Atlanta has only $18.4 million tied up in salaries next year, not including options and qualifying offers. Lou Williams is on a reasonable contract and so is All-Star center Al Horford. Smith has a reason to believe the Hawks are in position to make a splash if they can persuade a free agent to come South.
Smith is averaging 16.6 points per game and 8.1 rebounds per game entering Tuesday's game against Washington. These are not career-high numbers, by any stretch, but Smith's play passes the eye test and he seems to ahve taken on a bigger leadership role on a team that no longer has its big star in Joe Johnson.
Statistically, he may not be earning a re-upping of his $13.2 million contract -- his points per game, rebounds per game, field goal percentage, assists per game and PER are all down this season although his shots within 10 feet are up slightly this year as he is no longer leaving the paint and hoisting up jumpers as much.
If Smith is committed to Atlanta, then the question is whether Atlanta is committed to Smith.
Will Smith get mroe on the market than the Hawks are willing to pay? Is Smith worth a max contract if that is what he can get?
More importantly, if the Hawks feel the market might make Smith worth more than they believe, will the Hawks trade him before the deadline? The poker game of the trade deadilne is already beginning and there will be more than a few teams that likely will have some interest in the versatile forward.
Smith though seems willing to stick with Atlanta for the long term. The commitment seems mutual for now.
So cross another name off this summer's wish list.
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