Jan 25, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Hawks small forward Josh Smith (5) dunks the ball in overtime against the Boston Celtics at Philips Arena. The Hawks won 123-111. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

Josh Smith Declares Himself a Max Player

The elephant in the room has been addressed. Josh Smith has finally said the dreaded ‘m’ word. Jeff Schultz from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution has quotes from Josh after the thrilling double overtime win against the Boston Celtics.

His statements were referred to as “a line in the sand” by Schultz. In Smith’s own words, “I feel like I’m a max player. I feel I bring a lot to the table, I have a lot of versatility. For what I do and what I give to this ball club, I feel like I’m worth it”.

Well…is he?

Let’s have a quick comparison to the recent maximum deals handed out. This doesn’t not include maximum extension before restricted free agency that many star first round picks receive, but rather after that restricted free agency extension is exhausted. This eliminates Derrick Rose, who benefited from his own Derrick Rose rule by making two All-Star games and winning an MVP before signing his large extension.

Josh Smith would be in line to make $94 million over 5 years if the Hawks offered it. However, because the Atlanta Hawks are the only team to own his bird rights, he could only receive a 4 year contract from any other team. The one stipulation is if he is traded, the new team receives his bird rights.

As it pertains to the Atlanta Hawks, the $94 million figure is the focus, as there is almost no chance Atlanta trades him at the deadline and then signs him in the offseason without Smoove’s bird rights. That translates to an average of $18.8 million every season for five years.

According to spotrac.com, the exhaustive list of players currently on maximum contracts of at least $18 million over at least 5 years by decreasing yearly value is as follows:

  • Joe Johnson (6 years, $123.7 million)
  • Amare Stoudemire (5 years, $99.7 million)
  • Deron Williams (5 years, $98.8 million)
  • Lebron James (6 years, $109.8 million, early termination)
  • Chris Bosh (6 years, $109.8 million, early termination)

That is a very exclusive club. A general consensus is that Joe Johnson, Amare Stoudemire and Chris Bosh will not be able to recoup the value of their contracts. LeBron James, on the other hand, is on pace to blow by his worth in dollars whereas the jury is out on Deron Williams.

This helps illustrate that players not always deserving receive large contracts. However, this group all had multiple All-Star appearances and were regarded as stars upon meeting their payday. Does Atlanta value Josh Smith as much as those above? We will certainly find out by June and possibly by February.

This declaration may be a godsend, because it might force General Manager Danny Ferry’s hand at the trade deadline. If the Hawks front office executives previously had no indications of Smith’s expectations about his salary demands, they certainly do now. You can expect Ferry’s telephone to be ringing off the hook with trade offers because of Josh’s public comments. There most likely will be no lack of suitors looking to improve their team with a player who is among the most dynamic in the entire league.

Josh’s statements to Schultz may only muddy the waters in an increasingly foggier picture. Please keep coming back to Soaring Down South for the latest.

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