The Atlanta Hawks are moving forward without their All-Star Josh Smith Wednesday night against the Brooklyn Nets.
Smith, who was suspended for tonight’s game, has been leading the Hawks in scoring and blocks this season.
The suspension comes at a critical time in the season for Atlanta. The Hawks have lost seven of their past nine games, including their recent 39-point loss to the Chicago Bulls in which they scored a dismal 58 points.
Wednesday’s home matchup with Brooklyn is the first in a home-and-home series with the current 4th-seeded Nets, with the Hawks trailing by only one-and-a-half games … Not the most opportune time to suspend your star player.
Smith was suspended for “conduct detrimental to the team.”
Hawks head coach Larry Drew is trying to keep focus on the team and their game against their Eastern Conference foe.
Grantland NBA writer Zach Lowe summarized the shock of the announced suspension quite well:
With tension mounting amidst the team’s current losing skid compounded by Smith’s impending free agency, some are beginning to speculate that he could soon be on the move.
CBS Sports is reporting that multiple rival NBA executives have confirmed that the Atlanta Hawks have been shopping Smith around, engaging in talks with several teams.
Smith’s agent, Wallace Prather, expressed to Hawks GM Danny Ferry that he has “a lot of frustration” mounting with the team’s recent downward spiral, however he [Smith] did not request a trade.
Smith has spent the first nine years of his career with the Hawks. Statistically, he has yet to breakthrough into the upper echelon of star players on offense—having yet to complete a season with an average of 20 points per game or better.
He’ll always be a fan favorite at The Highlight Factory, but perhaps a change in scenery might be just what J-Smoove needs to reinvigorate his game and take his career to that next level.