Josh Smith seeking max-deal in summer free agency

Raj Prashad —  January 26, 2013

It’s been one of his worst statistical seasons in recent memory, but the free-shooting power forward, Josh Smith, believes he deserves a max-deal when he becomes a free agent this summer.

Smith gave his pitch to the AJC’s Jeff Schutlz after Friday’s morning shoot-around in preparation for Atlanta’s tilt with the visiting Boston Celtics.

“I feel like I’m a max player,” Smith said Friday. “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.”

After Atlanta’s last max contract– a $123-million deal to Joe Johnson– didn’t quite pan out, it would be understandable if the Hawks resist giving Smith an approximate $94-million, five-year deal.

On that notion, Smith made it clear why Atlanta should bring him back.

Smith again: “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.”

And if Friday’s huge come-from-behind 123-111 double-overtime victory over the Celtics is any indication of how Smith can play in crunch time against contending squads, Atlanta might just have to consider giving the 6’10” forward whatever deal he wants.

Smith had a stat line that included 17 points, 14 rebounds, seven assists, two blocks over 46 minutes. In every phase of the game, Smith was there, providing a big body on the inside and a physical frame of mind on the offensive end.

One game won’t change everything though, but it will help to push some of his more dreadful performances (and off-court blowups) out of mind.

Whether he can convince Atlanta’s ownership group to role the dice on him, though, will fully depend on where the other pieces of the 2013 free agency group lands.

Raj Prashad

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