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Extension Candidate: Josh Smith

For eight seasons in Atlanta, Josh Smith has been a key part of the franchise through its stronger seasons (see: 2007/08-present) and it's less-than-stellar years (see: all three years preceding that).  However, Smith hasn't always had the smoothest relationship with the Hawks' front office.  A week prior to this year's trade deadline, the forward made it known that he wanted out in order to get a fresh start on his career.  Smith stopped short of rehashing his trade demand in late May, but his comments didn't read like someone who wanted to play for the Hawks beyond his walk year in 2012/13.  Those, of course, are just the most prominent stories of Smith's dissatisfaction with the club during the Hoops Rumors era – it's hard to remember a recent season in which Smith didn't have some degree of friction with the Hawks.

However, he seems to have turned a corner as General Manager Danny Ferry says that Smith is now open to a long-term future in Atlanta.  Smith is set to earn $13.2MM in 2012/13 and on the surface would appear to be in line for a lucrative long-term extension after establishing career-highs in points (18.8 PPG) and rebounds (9.6 RPG).  The durable forward also turned in another healthy and productive season, starting in all 66 regular season games.  However, the collective bargaining agreement prevents Smith from securing an extension longer than three years. 

Will Smith's rekindled love for the Hawks make him want to forfeit the opportunity for a four- or five-year commitment next summer?  It's possible, but even Ferry doesn't like his chances of making that happen as he intimated that a new deal probably wouldn't be worked out until next summer.  Regardless, the Hawks can be expected to try their best to get Smith to agree to a three-year pact at a team friendly price of ~$45MM.  If not, Smith can put his toe in the water this time next year and stand out in a class of power forwards that will also include the likes of Paul Millsap and David West.

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