NBA Blog Previews: Atlanta Hawks

Please? - Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE

The Hawks, you may have heard, traded Joe Johnson to the Nets, giving them a lot more financial freedom. But will they continue the re-tooling by trading Josh Smith?

The Hawks, you may have heard, traded Joe Johnson to the Nets, giving them a lot more financial freedom.

Atlanta Hawks offseason review: Moving on from Joe Johnson - SBNation.com

This trade was a no-brainer, and it really didn't matter what the Hawks received in return. That they essentially got back a pu-pu platter of several mediocre players and useless draft picks is secondary to the bottom line. To get where they eventually wanted to be, the Hawks had to hit the reset button and rid themselves of Johnson's gargantuan contract. As soon as Danny Ferry could, he should have made the move.

So where does that leave them now?

Hawks preview: After Joe Johnson, can Atlanta generate offense? - SBNation.com

The removal of Johnson from the rotation means Josh Smith, in particular, will be asked to do more. Traditionally, asking Josh Smith to do more on offense has been a tricky proposition. He's a good passer, a great rebounder, a lovely defender and ... a terrible shooter. There is a great possibility that he will take more terrible shots in the absence of Johnson. I know that Larry Drew knows this, and I expect the Hawks have devised ways to avoid the inevitable result of Smith with a green light. But I still fear for the team.

And speaking about Josh Smith:

Atlanta Hawks 2012 Season Preview - Peachtree Hoops

Now, fast forward to the arrival of Ferry, the July deal that sent Johnson and his cap-capping contract away, bringing financial freedom for Atlanta to chase players to put around Smith and Horford, along with the change in philosophy that saw the Hawks pay the full MLE to Louis Williams, something that had not been done since Josh has been a Hawk. All of that plus the first real public pronouncements around the importance of Smith to the future of the franchise and the trade demand is no more. Still --- his contract status (he is a free agent at the end of the year) and his prior disenfranchisements will lead story after story around the league about the possibility of Smith getting traded.

Guilty as charged. (Read the rest of that last preview for a short history on Smith's tenure in Atlanta.

Will they or won't they? It is really hard to say at this point. I think they'll probably take some time to evaluate the roster and get a feel for how much Smith actually wants to commit to Atlanta. As the roster stands right now, they seem poised to maintain their mediocrity or even take a step back this season. However, they might be set up to add some real pieces in the offseason ...if everyone can remain patient enough to wait that long.

Smith is the kind of guy (like Rondo) that you can either focus on his weaknesses and pick him apart, or you can focus on his many strengths and appreciate. Not sure yet what camp Danny Ferry falls into - or Danny Ainge for that matter.

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