HANG TIME, TEXAS — Danny Ferry has been on the job for only a few weeks and already he’s backed the moving van up to cart off Joe Johnson and Marvin Williams.
So are the movers ready to lift Josh Smith like an old sofa and carry him to the door next?
Not so fast, Ferry tells Jeff Schultz of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
“He’s a really good player,” Ferry said. “I love his ability to pass the ball. I love his ability to make game-changing plays defensively. I love his competitiveness. If I was out there playing, I would want Josh on my team.”
But does Smith want to be here? He wasn’t available for comment Tuesday, but Ferry said he has met with him twice.
“He’s excited for next season,” he said. “We haven’t really gone in that direction with him [on roster plans]. But we’ve talked about how we’re going to play. We’ve talked about other players. His ideas, my ideas. I’m just trying to establish a relationship.”
Smith has only one year left on his contract. While he reportedly has softened his stance on a trade request, he publicly has given no indication yet that he’s looking to re-sign here. He is coming off the best season of his career (18.8 points, 9.6 rebounds), taking on more responsibility after Al Horford’s injury, even with the occasional “Josh” moment.
“All players have strengths and areas where they have to get better,” Ferry said. “All of them are praised and criticized.”
Ferry has a vision for the Hawks next season, and Smith is a part of that. They’ll run more. They’ll have to, given the lack of size. They’re a guard-heavy team, with moves that brought in Devin Harris, Anthony Morrow, Louis Williams, Kyle Korver and rookie John Jenkins.
Ferry, of course, is no babe in the woods. He did a quite capable job of putting pieces around LeBron James in Cleveland that were good enough to get the Cavs to the 2007 Finals and the best record in the league twice (2008-09 and 2009-10). He’s learned the value of not overreacting and making rash moves by serving his time in the stable environment of the San Antonio Spurs.
Smith has enough raw talent oozing from his pores to probably fill out the roster of a team all by himself. He gets frustrated and hoists up bad shots. He got frustrated at the end of the season and said he wanted a trade.
The easy path would be for the Hawks to get frustrated and just ship Smith out, but then they kiss the playoffs goodbye. Ferry’s choice is the smarter one — let Smith and the new regime learn about each other and see if there is a foundation of trust and playing style to build upon. You always try to pick up the pieces before tossing them.