What The Hawks Need to Do If Josh Smith Leaves

Monty SinghSenior Analyst IJuly 4, 2008

Josh Smith, the restricted free agent, recently visited the 76ers and they could offer him money the Hawks just would not be able to afford.

Smith is one of the young bright stars in the league who is a fierce dunker and on his way to be one of the great defenders all time. Despite his attitude problems he is the hottest free agent right now.

The Hawks made the playoffs and had took the eventual champions of the Celtics to 7 games. They were marked as one of the teams to look out for this year.

The 76ers however, another young and talented team that will be in the run next year in the East, are ruining the Hawks chances of being a threat.

The 76ers have enough cap space to get Smith to a contract offer that the Hawks cannot possibly match. The Hawks need to consider in their future of re-signing stars Joe Johnson and Al Horford.

An inside source told me the 76ers are exploring other options, like Corey Maggette, before offering a contract to Smith, in which he most likely will accept. The 76ers getting him will make them the most athletic team in the NBA that will be a threat the East.

Another team in the mix for Smith are the Golden State Warriors who will also be able to offer a large contract, but Smith favors the 76ers over them.

The Hawks, however, will be losing one of their best assets, but they can overcome that to remain in the playoffs in the East.

Joe Johnson is a star in the league and proved that against the Celtics in the playoffs. Al Horford had also proven he can be a legit big man in the leauge just after his rookie season. He has shown he is a rebounding machine.

The two main stars of the team are helped by veteran point guard Mike Bibby and still waiting to be a factor Marvin Williams.

Keeping Bibby will be smart because of his large expiring contract at the end of the season. This will give them a lot of cap space to work with next summer.

If Smith decides to flee from Atlanta the Hawks new GM Sund would need to get to work this Summer.

Smith did have problems in the organization because of his attitude. A big problem was with coach Mike Woodson. With Smith gone all the distractions will not be a problem no more. The team can be more well balanced then.

With Smith also leaving the team will have cap space to get depth and future cap space to re-sign vital players.

Josh Childress, a sixth man of the year candidate, had a very solid season last year. He is a free agent that will expect to re-sign with the Hawks.

Childress can rebound and takes good shots, unlike Josh Smith. He should be bumped up to the starting lineup to help them out. He can also help them with his defense.

Salim Stoudamire is a restricted free agent who did not get too much of a chance to prove anything. Expect him to re-sign to help be a back up shooting guard.

If there is a sign and trade with the 76ers, the 76ers could send a guy like promising Reggie Evans to the Hawks to add depth to the front court. 

A trade possibility is to trade for Al Harrington of the Warriors. They want to get rid of him and he would be able to fit the Hawks very well. A possibility is to send Speedy Claxton and a draft pick for Harrington.

This way Harrington can start and Childress can stick with his role coming off the bench. Harrington is a versatile player who can play in the post and on the perimeter. He actually can be an upgrade over Smith with his scoring ability.

Acie Law did not show much promise last season. After failing to take Chris Paul in the draft, by selecting Marvin Williams, they have lacked a point guard. Bibby is a player they need to keep for his expiring contract. He also is not a bad player.

A free agent for them to look at is Shaun Livingston. Before his injury he really was showing strides to living up to expectations. Without playing a season he developed a better jump shot and doctors say he is healthy.

The Hawks would need to take a chance on Livingston because it is one gamble they can afford.

Another free agent to grab is another player coming off a big injury, and that is Nenad Kristic. He is a player who can add depth to their front court. He can spread the floor with his sold jump shot or take someone on the post.

Josh Smith leaving actually can be a good thing for the Hawks. With him leaving they will lose a distraction and the players they expect more out of like Marvin Williams and Josh Childress can shine.

The Hawks will have a potentially more balanced lineup. With a full year under Bibby they will also have more chemistry.

If they make the right moves this off season, a lineup could look like Bibby, Johnson, Harrington (or Childress), Williams, and Horford.

By adding depth in the off season the team will find themselves back in the playoffs. Mike Woodson knows his job is on the line every game. The team will play well together and manage to make a playoff run.

Joe Johnson will show the league with Smith gone that he is a star that can carry a team. Maybe Marvin Williams will surprise some out there.