A contract extension for Josh Smith before he hits free agency next summer looks unlikely, according to Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. That's no surprise — for players of Smith's caliber, free agent contracts are more appealing than in-season extensions, which max out at three new years. However, Smith is open to a long-term future in Atlanta, according to GM Danny Ferry.
"I’ve been clear that I value Josh as a player," Ferry said. "He has worked hard this summer and I believe he is going to have a great season. I’ve been in contact with his representatives. Josh and his representatives have been clear that he is excited about the direction of the team and wants to be part of the future in Atlanta. That being said, I don’t expect the contract situation to be resolved until next summer."
The stance represents something of a 180 for Smith, who had long hoped to be traded and hinted as recently as May that he was still dissatisfied with the Hawks. Since Ferry took over though, and moved big contracts like Joe Johnson's and Marvin Williams', Smith seems to have come around on the club's direction, according to multiple reports.
Smith will earn $13.2MM in 2012/13, the final year of his current contract. If he were to sign an in-season extension, he could land a new deal of up to three years and about $45MM. In free agency, he'd be eligible for a four-year deal with a new team or a five-year deal with Atlanta. In both cases, his annual salary could be higher than what he'd earn if he simply signed an extension.
Vivlamore notes that negotiations between the two sides aren't completely closed, and that there's still a chance, albeit a slim one, that an extension could be worked out before Smith becomes an unrestricted free agent next July.