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One of the biggest names leading up to the NBA trade deadline was Josh Smith of the Atlanta Hawks.  The team was publicly hesitant  about giving Smith the max contract he desired and it was believed he would walk at the end of the season.  Because of those reasons many assumed that without a doubt he would be traded before the deadline.  Hawks GM Danny Ferry shocked everyone when he pulled the plug on a potential deal with the Milwaukee Bucks and decided to keep the soon to be free agent.  It turns out he may pay dearly for that decision one way or another.  Read more after the jump.

Shay Marie

“We value Josh,” Ferry told NBA TV. “He’s been important to our program here the last several years, and I’ve enjoyed working with him this year. He’s an important part of this team, and we look forward to finishing the year well with him.”

The rest of the year is all they may have left with Smith as it is reported that he’s likely to walk at the end of the season.   A person familiar with Smith’s plans told USA TODAY that Smith is “highly unlikely” to re-sign with the Hawks.  Smith has publicly said he is a max contract player which would net him around $94 million for five years.

“I feel like I’m a max player,” Smith said. And yes, that is the first time he has said that.

“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.”

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 [Johnson]. You can’t say, ‘I’m skeptical of giving another person that’ because of whatever they feel like happened.”

Smith noted that the Hawks are hesitant due to the max contract they gave Joe Johnson which earned him the nickname Ski Mask Joe (draw whatever conclusion you want with that info).  Ferry hasn’t said if he’s changed his mind about offering Smith the max contract but there’s a chance he may be able to get it from elsewhere and leave the Hawks offer on the table.

Sports Illustrated