Hawks Leaning Toward Trading Josh Smith?

Within his power rankings for Yahoo! Sports yesterday, Marc J. Spears included an interesting nugget in reference to the Hawks, noting that "expectations are growing" that the team will trade Josh Smith before the deadline. While Spears didn't specify whether he was alluding to expectations around the league or within the Hawks' organization, it certainly doesn't seem like a sure thing that Smith will be back in Atlanta next season.

Vincent Goodwill of the Detroit News follows up on Spears' report with one of his own, tweeting that he's hearing Smith doesn't intend to re-sign with the Hawks, and will be moved "very soon" by the club. The timing of the reports is interesting, as Smith and the Hawks were expected to meet this week to discuss the forward's future in Atlanta. It's not clear whether that discussion has taken place yet, but if Spears' and Goodwill's reports are accurate, it sounds as if perhaps Smith has expressed, or will express, a preference to be moved.

One report earlier this month suggested that the Hawks remain committed to Smith, following an incident that earned him a one-game suspension from the team. On the heels of that suspension, agent Wallace Prather met with GM Danny Ferry to discuss what Prather called "a lot of frustration" on Smith's part. Neither Smith nor his agent requested a trade at the time, but Ken Berger of CBSSports.com wrote that the Hawks had at least taken calls from teams interested in acquiring the 27-year-old.

When I asked last week whether the Hawks will trade Smith before the February 21st deadline, the votes were split nearly right down the middle. Over at SI.com, Ben Golliver and Rob Mahoney debated Smith's future today, with both scribes suggesting that a trade probably makes more sense for Atlanta than risking losing the longtime Hawk over the summer, when he'll be seeking a max contract.

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