Hawks forward Josh Smith surprised many around basketball earlier this year when he said that he believes he should be in line for a max contract this summer. While the 27-year-old is undoubtedly in line for a lucrative deal, hoping for that amount of money seems overly optimistic. Our own Luke Adams recently crunched the numbers on max contract scenarios for this summer's top free agents and showed that a max deal from the Hawks could pay him $99.7MM over five years and a topped-out deal from another club could be worth $74MM over four years, depending on how much max salaries increase this summer. Smith is a welcome addition to any club, but will he get an annual average of about $20MM from the Hawks or $18.5MM from another team?
So far, the Hawks have maintained that they will not be giving the forward a max contract. Then again, the fact that they held on to Smith at the trade deadline means that there is at least a little room for a change of heart. The high-flying veteran has a better chance of getting a max deal elsewhere and while the chances of that may seem remote as well, there will be a number of teams with cap space to burn this summer. And with all due respect, more than a few of these clubs might be desperate to make waves. The Bucks, Pistons, Cavs, Bobcats, and Jazz are just some of the clubs that will have the breathing room necessary to make a major pickup. Will an advantageous market be enough to net Smith the max deal that he seeks?