How Much Is Atlanta Hawks' Josh Smith Really Worth?

Peter Emerick@@peteremerickSenior Writer IIDecember 28, 2012

ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 22:  Josh Smith #5 of the Atlanta Hawks reacts after a basket and drawing a foul by the Chicago Bulls at Philips Arena on December 22, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Josh Smith and trade rumors are synonymous with each other.

It seems like every year the Atlanta Hawks throw him on the trade block to see how much he's worth to the rest of the NBA.

The Hawks apparently believe he's currently worth $13.2 million—which is how much the final year of his contract is worth—according to Hoops Salary.

The big question, though, as Smith will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2012-13 season, is just how much he's actually worth.

Let's start to look for an answer to that question by looking at Smith's career stats.

Josh Smith (nine seasons) — 15.1 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 3.1 APG, 2.2 BLKPG, 1.3 STLPG, 46.4 FG%

When you look at those statistics, it's obvious that Smith is worth as much as he's currently making.

His $13.2 million per year puts Smith just under players like Kevin Love ($13.7 million), Eric Gordon ($13.7 million), Marc Gasol ($13.9 million) and Manu Ginobili ($14.1 million).

Putting Smith in a category with those players isn't unfair, and in all honesty, it makes a lot of sense because he is as productive as most of those players—aside from double-double machine, Kevin Love.

What makes Smith a bit different than those players is that he's an athletic monster.

When you watch him fly up and down the court, and swoop in on defense for highlight-reel dunks, you're in awe. And that means that teams are going to increase his value because of the star appeal he brings to the court.

Smith's main criticism is his lack of discipline on both sides of the ball.

While you could chalk that up to the fact that he's just 27 years old, in spite of his nine seasons in the NBA, his lack of discipline is certainly his Achilles heel.

Fortunately, teams seem to favor athleticism and potential more than they care about discipline when it comes to signing free agents.

Potential is a very powerful thing on the free-agent market, and there will definitely be teams looking to make Smith their franchise player.

While there aren't many rumors circulating about who those teams are, one thing is for sure: Teams will overpay for Smith because of his potential and star appeal.

Based on the current CBA, Smith falls into the seven-nine year category, which means he can be paid $11 million per year or 30 percent of the salary cap—around $17 million this past season—according to

It's not unreasonable to think that Smith could earn a $17 million per-year contract from a needy team like the Charlotte Bobcats, Washington Wizards, Phoenix Suns and Cleveland Cavaliers.

Teams will overpay for Smith's talents, that's just a fact of life. It happens every offseason, and this year will be no exception.

Smith is a good player to take a risk on because at worst, you're getting an athletic player who knows how to play the game and put some impressive production on the board.

He's already told the Hawks that he's not signing an extension this season—according to Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News

When it comes to "J-smoove's" future, one thing is for sure. The Atlanta Hawks won't be paying him anything next season.

He'll be looking to take his talents elsewhere—most likely to a team who will give him more money than he's worth.


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