Josh Smith Says Hawks Told Him Trade Rumors Are 'False'
With speculation having swirled this month, the Atlanta forward said Hawks general manager Rick Sund told him there are no plans to deal him.
"They told me that it was all false,'' Smith said Monday in an interview with FanHouse about the trade rumors. "That they want to keep this team and this nucleus together because they feel we have something special going.''
Smith said it was Sund who told him that. Sund did not return a phone message, and a team official said he is away for a few days dealing with a family matter.
Smith, making $11.6 million this season, is under contract through 2012-13. All four other Atlanta starters are also under contract at least through next season. Atlanta's main upcoming order of business is deciding whether to sign sixth-man Jamal Crawford to a contract extension or let him become an unrestricted free agent next summer.
ESPN.com reported earlier this month Atlanta's signing of Al Horford to a five-year $60 million contract extension, which kicks in next season, could create a financial burden with the team resulting in Smith being put on the market soon. The Detroit Free Press then reported the Pistons could be interested in Smith.
"I take it with a grain of salt,'' Smith said of trade rumors. "If it's going to happen, it's going to happen. As long as I'm a Hawk, I'm going to play hard and play my heart out every game.''
Smith was born and grew up in the Atlanta area. The seventh-year player has no desire to leave the only team for which he has played.
"I'm in a comfort zone,'' Smith said. "I think like we have a pretty good ball club. And I would love to stay here.''
About the only friction Smith creates with the Hawks these days is whether or not he's shooting three-pointers. After firing up plenty in his first five seasons, Smith held back last season, going 0 of 7 to drop his career percentage to 26.6.
Smith is 7 of 18 this season for a solid 38.9 percent. But that doesn't mean coach Larry Drew, who took over last June when Mike Woodson was fired after six seasons, wants him to keep firing away.
"As he knows, I'm not big on him taking threes,'' Drew said. "If it's a situation where the shot clock is running down and you got to get it up, that's one thing. I don't mind him shooting the ball on the perimeter, especially if it's within the flow of what we do offensively ... If he gets it early in the (shot) clock and shoots it, I don't want it. He knows I don't want that. I think the main thing with him is to get him to understand time and score of when to get a shot and when not to.
"I don't want him to feel going into a game that the perimeter is going to be his bread and butter, because it's not. He's got to get into the post.''
As for Smith, well, let's just say he remains confident with his outside jumper.
"When I'm open in the offense, I take the shot,'' said Smith, averaging 16.3 points and 9.3 rebounds entering Monday's home game against Boston. "I'm comfortable. My teammates have confidence in me. For the most part, I've been knocking them down. I've been in the gym working hard so I just got to keep doing it.''
That might not always make Drew happy. But the Hawks apparently have no plans to trade Smith.
Chris Tomasson can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @christomasson