Saturday , Aug , 09 , 2008 Oly Sandor

No joke: Atlanta Hawks ‘make statement’ with Josh Smith signing

Yesterday, Atlanta made a definite statement by matching Memphis’ five-year, 58 million dollar offer sheet to high-flying forward Josh Smith. After all, the Smith saga was fast developing into another quagmire just like July’s Josh Childress to Greece quagmire. And two quagmires in one summer wouldn’t be good even by Hawk standards …

No joke: Atlanta Hawks 'make statement' with Josh Smith signingTeams often makes moves because they need to fill an on-court need and for publicity. Rewind to last summer when the Orlando Magic went Enron on Rashard Lewis because overpaying the forward helped fans forget Billy Donovan’s flip-flop.

You get the picture. On-and-off court interests conveniently intertwine. And the transaction makes a statement about the future to fans, media, and corporate sponsors.

Yesterday, Atlanta made a definite statement by matching Memphis’ five-year, 58 million dollar offer sheet to high-flying forward Josh Smith. After all, the Smith saga was fast developing into another quagmire just like July’s Josh Childress to Greece quagmire. And two quagmires in one summer wouldn’t be good even by Hawk standards.

So the Smith deal helps Atlanta’s on-court product and provides their embattled owners with some much-needed good ‘pub’.  

Re-signing the 22 year old –for very reasonable dollars, mind you- gives the club another potential All-Star. And Smith will lead the Hawks’ blue-chip forwards, while the backcourt is set with Joe Johnson and Mike Bibby. Without Childress, the bench will turn to Zaza Pachulia, Maurice Evans, and Acie Law for scoring.

Most importantly, the team now has an identifiable core and can trade for or develop complementary pieces. Bottom line, there is some light after decades of darkness with Jon Koncak and J.R. Rider.

Keeping Smith also signals ownership’s commitment to building on last season’s playoff against the world champion Celtics. This is huge. These are the same collection of dysfunctional owners who sued each other, vetoed trades for superstars, and encouraged former executive Billy Knight to draft players based on marketability.

The Smith contract improves the Hawks on and off court. A few more statement moves and Atlanta will no longer be viewed as the NBA’s Siberia.

What will J-Smith’s contract do for the ATL’s future? Get at us in the comment box below with your thoughts and come back to HoopsVibe The Blog for more NBA tidbits. Photo courtesy of haldcottingham.