Nine seasons into Josh Smith's career and the talking points haven't changed much. But that's not what really matters.

Doesn't matter that Smith can be the best player on the court, or the reason your head hurts. Doesn't matter that he often has been the only Hawks player worth the cost of a ticket, or the one that makes you rip the ticket in pieces. Doesn't matter that he probably deserved to be an All-Star in the last three years, even if those in power to fill out the All-Star roster seem to view him as a life form just north of algae.

This is all that matters right now about Smith, specifically regarding his tenuous future with the Hawks: His contract is expiring and his asking price for a new one is going to be high. It's going to hit the ceiling. It's why his days in Atlanta may be numbered.

"I feel like I'm a max player," Smith said Friday.

And yes, that is the first time he has said that.

"I feel I bring a lot to the table. I have a lot of versatility. For what I do and what I give this ball club, I feel like I'm worth it."