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As the Josh Smith Saga Turns

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Josh Smith remains sans contract for the 2008-09 season.

But the Hawks' restricted free agent forward seems to have changed his tune as to why he isn't in any rush to re-up with the Hawks.

As reported by ESPN's Marc Stein:

Josh Smith's increasing reluctance to return to the Atlanta Hawks has little to do with Mike Woodson, despite repeated media suggestions that Smith is eager to play for a new coach.

Smith and Woodson are fine, one confidante insists. Smith's frustration with the Hawks is the slow-moving state of negotiations, with Smith apparently still waiting for a serious contract proposal nearly three weeks into free agency.

Not sure how much of a choice Josh really has here.

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The Grizzlies aren't going to be breaking the piggy bank for Smith, and as the only team with the cap space to offer Smith a big-time contract that goes much beyond the mid-level, Memphis' lack of interest really limits Smith's leverage. 

All indications thus far this summer have been that he wants out for one reason or another, which makes the expectation here that he'll end up playing for a qualifying offer this year and then hitting unrestricted free agency in the summer of 2009.

That being said, this guy is a valuable chip to the Hawks' building for the future, and with his versatility and high ceiling, the time might just be right for the Hawks to open up some deeper pockets than usual.