J osh Smith told Grantland just a few short weeks ago that he was as happy as he had ever been in the NBA. The Hawks were winning more than even optimists expected behind a surprisingly stingy defense, a dynamic front line led by Smith and Al Horford, some creative coaching, and chemistry Smith and others described as the very best they'd experienced. Most of the players, including Smith, are on expiring contracts, but the "get mine" selfishness that can infect that kind of situation hadn't surfaced. The Hawks have since gone into a tailspin, with nine losses in their last 12 games. The offense has cratered, unable to produce enough free throws or shots at the rim. Smith has been part of that, enduring the worst overall shooting season of his career. He's still jacking the long jumpers that don't go in nearly enough, missing almost half his foul shots, and rebounding at a lower rate than in either of the past two seasons. Internally, things reached a low point with an incident at practice last Tuesday that resulted in a one-game suspension for Smith and an emergency meeting in which Smith's agent, per Ken Berger of CBS Sports, expressed serious concerns about the state of the Hawks, but stopped short of demanding a trade.
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