HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Long before Dwight Howard‘s training camp trade request went public, his preschool classmate and former AAU teammate Josh Smith beat him to the punch, going to Hawks’ management with his trade request before last February’s trade deadline.
With the new deadline a week away, Smith’s longstanding request, has finally gone public, courtesy of the Atlanta Journal Constitution. The timing couldn’t be worse for the Hawks, who are playing without All-Stars Joe Johnson (knee) and Al Horford (surgery for a torn pectoral muscle) and being carried on a nightly basis by Smith and a cast of veteran role players.
Smith’s played his entire career in his hometown for the Hawks, his career and the franchise’s on-court fortunes rising simultaneously. Smith’s agents have reiterated that request to Hawks GM Rick Sund since the lockout ended. The conversations have intensified recently, with executives around the league weighing all of their options as the deadline approaches.
Smith made it clear on the first day that players were allowed back at team facilities after the lockout ended that he was bent on competing for a championship at this stage of his career and that if the Hawks didn’t feel like their core group had the ability to do that, it was probably time to break up the core and start making moves.
While Johnson and Horford have battled injuries all season, Horford played just 11 games before going down for the season with that torn pectoral muscle, Smith has been the Hawks’ most consistent force. He’s averaging 17.1 points, 9.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.0 blocks.
News of his trade request is sure to cause a shakeup for the Hawks, 23-16 but 5-5 in their last 10 games. They are trying to hold on to their playoff position while battling major injury issues. Surely, they don’t need any added distractions.
But if there is a move to be made, it has to be made by next Thursday’s deadline.