Josh Smith may not be Atlanta's main man much longer.
The Atlanta Hawks (26-10) are still looking good for a postseason appearance, but a humiliating 18-point loss against the Chicago Bulls on Feb. 2 is great inspiration for them to focus hard on regrouping.
"Rebuild" is an oft-used word, one that coaches use when they are seeking major changes in their teams.
There are some Hawks players that are worthy candidates as building blocks. Then there are those who would simply be more valuable off the team.
*Note: All statistics effective through Feb. 3
Josh Smith's days as a Hawk may be numbered.
There’s a high possibility that Josh Smith will not be wearing a Hawks uniform next year. Trade talks are being thrown at him from all directions and his recent “max-player” claim may not have helped.
The Hawks’ front office does not need to make that mistake again.
For one, Smith is not a maximum-contract-type player. He is still awaiting his first All-Star invitation in his nine seasons, and he leads a team that is known for first-round ousts in the playoffs.
He is an incredible defender and has revived the Highlight Factory at Philips Arena. His numbers (16.9 points, 4 assists and 8.5 rebounds per game) are solid, but not enough for him to get more than the $13.2 million he’s already earning.
There are times where he posts 30 points, 13 rebounds, eight assists and four blocks, like in the Hawks’ 104-92 win against the Charlotte Bobcats on Jan. 23.
It hasn’t looked too good for Smith since the one-game suspension he served in mid-January for an incident in practice.
ESPN’s Chris Broussard recently reported that general manager Danny Ferry met with Smith’s agent to discuss his future in Atlanta.
The message is pretty clear now, and it could be time to prepare for Smith's departure.
Al Horford isn't the flashiest player on the team, but he is one of the most valuable.
Al Horford isn’t a superstar by any means, but he is a solid, all-around player. His quiet style makes it easy for him to be overshadowed by the fiery Josh Smith, but he is definitely one of the Hawks’ vocal leaders.
If the Hawks do trade Smith, they need to seek a player who can take over the 5 spot. Horford is a true power forward who has played outside his position since joining the league in 2007, and it’s time for the Hawks to fix that.
Still, Horford has held his own against the league’s elite big men: He is currently 10th in rebounds with 9.8 a game. He's even scored a couple of trips to the All-Star game.
Horford has improved each season he’s played with the Hawks, with the exception of last season when his shoulder injury limited him to only 11 games.
His leadership stands out above all Hawks, though, thanks to his great attitude.
Horford is probably the Hawks' most reliable player because he works hardest to perform his best every game.
The Hawks would do very well building a team around him.
Lou Williams may be back in six to nine months.
This is a tough call because Lou Williams was a great asset to the Hawks’ offense.
It was a huge blow to Atlanta because he was starting to get on a roll. In the nine games he started, Williams posted 18.6 points and 5.8 assists.
He was definitely the Hawks’ most fearless scorer. But he has to heal now, and all the Hawks can do is support him during his recovery.
In the meantime, the Hawks need some other players to step up and try to fill Williams’ void.
There is a great chance that Williams will come back strong, but it is also likely that he returns missing a step or two once he’s back in the lineup.
Williams spoke to the media on Feb. 1 for the first time since his injury, telling Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Chris Vivlamore that he got a generic recovery timetable of six to nine months.
When that time comes, Williams will certainly be a key player in the Hawks’ rebuilding process.
Jeff Teague continues to find his comfort zone in the offense.
Williams’ absence has been a golden opportunity for Teague to put himself more in the spotlight. He has proven he can be a leader and scorer simultaneously.
Teague has shown he is prepared for the extra responsibility, but he needs to do so consistently. With Devin Harris as the starting point guard, Teague can shift to the 2 and have more opportunities to shoot.
He is still the Hawks’ best passer, but he also needs to create open shots for himself. And it’s imperative that he wants to be the guy with the ball during crunch time.
Teague’s career performance of 28 points and 11 assists against the Nets on Jan. 16 gave the Hawks a glimpse of what he could really bring to the offense.
Patience will play a big role in Teague’s future with the team. He told HOOPWORLD's Alex Raskin that he doesn’t think about his upcoming restricted free agency and is focused solely on winning.
If they can get that squared away by the summer, Teague can prepare himself to be Atlanta's "point guard of the future."
Kyle Korver's sharp shooting has been a bright spot for the Hawks.
Kyle Korver has been the most impressive Hawk since Williams got hurt. In the last seven games, he averaged 17.3 points while shooting 59 percent behind the arc.
It was most obvious when he made a career-high eight three-pointers against in the Celtics game on Jan. 25. That kind of performance is priceless.
Korver is not a franchise player, but he will do whatever it takes to help his team bring home a "W."
He carried his team on his shoulders in that Celts game, proving to be a clutch shooter. He has shown he can be a major player in the Hawks' roster.
Devin Harris is running out of time to prove his worth to the team.
This has been a tough season for Devin Harris. He’s battled injuries and is still struggling to find his way into the Hawks O.
Whatever the scenario, Harris really has not put much in for Atlanta since joining the team last summer.
He has become more of a role player, someone who can start at the point so Teague can move to the 2 and shoot more. But that's only if he is actually playing.
Rookie John Jenkins is listed as the No. 1 shooting guard on the depth chart because Harris sat out the Bulls game on Feb. 2 for that same ankle that's nagged him all season.
Harris might not get traded before the Feb. 21 deadline, but it’s unlikely the Hawks will re-sign him after his contract expires.
It would be best if the Hawks start shopping for another guard to replace Harris, because it is clear he is not going to add much value to the team.