(Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports)

NBA Free Agency: Josh Smith Wants a Max Contract

January 23, 2013; Charlotte, NC, USA; Atlanta Hawks forward Josh Smith (5) reacts during a time out in the game against the Charlotte Bobcats at Time Warner Cable Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

Josh Smith is back in the news again, but not because of another suspension or for not making the all-star team. Smith is causing a buzz because he has gone on the record saying he deserves to be a max contract player.

Although he has experienced frustration with the Atlanta Hawks organization over the years, it’s fair to say that he puts everything he has day in and day out as he’s averaging 17 points per game this season. Smith, already in his ninth season of his career and with the team is versatile, talented, a hard worker and definitely one of those players you pay big money to see.

“I feel like I’m a max player,” Smith said, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I feel I bring a lot to the table. I have a lot of versatility. For what I do and what I give this ball club, I feel like I’m worth it.”

The question now remains on whether or not the front offices will comply and give in to Smith’s demands.

As Jeff Schultz points out in his article, the Hawks have only given out one max contract in their club history and that was a 6-year, $123 million dollar extension deal to Joe Johnson. A deal that has ridiculed the club and a deal they have regretted ever since.

Now is this why the Atlanta Hawks are so hesitant on giving Smith a contract he rightfully deserves all because of one bad deal?

Smith was asked about the unfortunate history of the Hawks giving out max deals, saying,

“There shouldn’t be any hesitation. I’m Josh Smith; I’m not anybody else. I’m not Michael Jordan, I’m not LeBron James, I’m not Brook Lopez. I’m Josh Smith. You can’t look at what might’ve happened with another person. Let’s say Joe. You can’t say, ‘I’m skeptical of giving another person that’ because of whatever they feel like happened.”

If the Hawks do decide to hold onto Smith, under the new collective bargaining right an extension could be as high as $94 million for roughly five years.

Without a doubt, Smith has been a key player in the Hawk’s recent playoff runs. It all comes down to whether or not general manager Danny Ferry feels he should risk it and throw all his chips on Smith to lead the team to a championship.

However, if Ferry believes the asking price is too high, you can be sure to see many teams calling for Smith and willing to pay the max deal he wants.

Being sixth in the eastern conference (28 wins, 16 loses) and losing one of their top scorers, Lou Williams for the rest of the season, critics and spectators may start to believe that if the Hawks do make the playoffs, they aren’t going far.

Once the trade deadline nears, Smith’s situation will become more and more interesting to follow. However, if he does manage to survive the deadline, his upcoming status in the free agency will be as if not more intriguing.

Tags: Atlanta Hawks Joe Johnson Josh Smith NBA NBA Free Agency

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