Former Hawk Smith looks forward to return


Former Hawk Smith looks forward to return

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Duane Burleson, Associated Press
Josh Smith, the former Hawks player now with the Pistons, returns to Philips Arena for the first time since signing with Detroit in the offseason.

At least they said hello.

Hawks general manager Danny Ferry previously said the team did not make Josh Smith a contract offer when he was an unrestricted free agent this summer. Smith gave more detail into the Hawks’ lack of interest in an interview Monday with 92.9 FM.

“During free agency, during that period, there were a lot of guys out in L.A. that were meeting with various teams. I was one of those guys. That’s where I work out in the summertime as well,” Smith said. “The only time I saw the Hawks during free agency was when they came to one of my workouts just to say hello. I think they were meeting with Dwight Howard that day. They never came in or sat down with me during the free agency period to offer me anything.”

Smith, the long-time Hawks player and local product, ended up signing a four-year, $54 million contract with the Pistons in July. The forward returns to Atlanta Wednesday for his first game at Philips Arena as a visitor.

The deal with the Pistons was below the maximum he could have received from the Hawks. He could have signed a four-year deal with another team for a maximum of $70 million. The Hawks could have signed him to a five-year deal for a maximum of $94.3 million.

Smith, who is top 10 in most of the Hawks’ all-time statistical categories after nine years with the organization, said he has no hard feelings.

“Once you take your personal feelings out of the situation you understand that it is a business, more so than anything,” Smith said. “You kind of are going to set yourself up for failure. It’s probably an organization that probably wanted to go in a different direction and I understand that. I moved on for the better of my situation and I’m pretty sure they felt the same way.”

Smith said he is looking forward to coming back to the home he still has here. How he will be greeted by Hawks fans remains to be seen.

“I’m having mixed emotions,” Smith said. “I know that my friends and family are going to be happy to see me there. I don’t necessarily know what is going to happen with the rest of the fans. I’m just coming to win a basketball game. That is pretty much it. I’m coming in there being focused to win a game, get off on the right foot, and I’m not necessarily concerned with how the crowd is going to receive me.”

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