Josh Smith was perhaps the most talked-about target prior to the trade deadline, and though he remained with the Hawks, speculation about his future won't end anytime soon, since he'll be an unrestricted free agent this summer. If Dwight Howard and Chris Paul remain in Los Angeles, there could be no more sough-after commodity on the market than Atlanta's athletic power forward. He recently opened up about where he stands with his career seemingly in transition, and Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe and Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News shared some of his comments. We'll pass along the highlights here:
On his inclusion in trade rumors at the deadline:
"It was total chaos, for two or three weeks. It’s good just to concentrate, knowing where I’m at, at least until the end of the season, and now we can focus on what we can do to make a playoff push and jockeying for position, knowing that it’s a real tight race. It’s good to be able to focus on basketball."
On his worth as a player:
"I’m respected in the NBA as far as the players are concerned. I know I’m a highly attractive player and all I can do is keep playing confident, hold my head high, and not really worry about what the naysayers and haters say."
On his assertion that he deserves a max contract:
"I didn’t just come up and make the statement that I was (a maximum player) — it was a question that I was asked. I gave an honest answer. It’s not added pressure. I’m not going around just stating that. It was definitely a question."
On his impending free agency:
"I’m the type of person who doesn’t like to look ahead. I focus on the present. As long as we do special things during the season or during the postseason, I don’t look into the future. I’ll think about (free agency) when it gets here."
On playing in Atlanta, a city with laid-back fans:
"It is a little difficult. Last year like I was telling everybody, we were ranked No. 1 worst sports town in the United States. It was just the whole city, baseball, football – but football always has a crazy fanbase – it is a little bit difficult. But hopefully we can turn it around sooner than later."