Don’t think Josh Smith is just waiting to bolt Atlanta, the only city he’s known for the vast majority of his 27 years. He has a wife there, two young children, a home, good friends and one very personal chauffeur.
“I love driving to the games with my father, each and every home game,” Smith said Monday night after he continued to grab the attention of general managers across the league with a 26-point, 13-rebound, six-assist performance to push the Hawks to a road win over the Dallas Mavericks. “Every home game, my dad drives me to the arena. He gives me his assessments after each and every game. With the exception of myself criticizing my game, he’s the next person in line.”
Pete Smith won’t find much to criticize in the 105-101 win. His son went 10-for-15 from the floor, canned a season-high-tying four 3-pointers on five attempts, including a huge one with 1:29 to go for a 99-94 lead. OK, so he did have five turnovers and missed a pair of late free throws before making two with 22.2 seconds to go.
“I have to wait for his texts,” Josh Smith said. “I know he’s probably texted me two or three times, a long paragraph about whatever he feels like I did, but it’s always something. It’s all good. That’s my dad.”
And that’s hard to leave. But if Smith is traded, he is ready for that, too. It is Atlanta general manager Danny Ferry‘s call to make by the Feb. 21 trade deadline. The Brooklyn Nets, according to reports, are pushing the hardest.
“I will say there is a lot invested,” said Smith, who has gone on a tear over the last nine games. “I was born and raised there, spent my whole childhood and my whole life there. I will say it’s a big investment.” But, Smith continued, “Once you understand as a player that this is a business and you don’t take anything personal, you kind of worry about just playing basketball.”
After dropping three of four, including an 11-point home loss Friday to New Orleans, Atlanta improved to 28-22 with Monday’s win. The Hawks are searching for the spark that sent them to a 20-10 start as they’ve fallen to sixth in the East, two games behind third-place Indiana (and just one game in the loss column).
The Hawks are positioned for a sixth consecutive trip to the playoffs in Smith’s ninth season, but the question is if this team is built to make a legitimate run at the Miami Heat for the East crown.