Originally posted on Fox Sports South  |  Last updated 2/2/13
ATLANTA Nineteen days. Its a span that will decide if Josh Smith plays the remainder of this season in a Hawks uniform or someone else's. Its Smith's No. 5 that's the dominant jersey on the backs of those in the Philips Arena seats and the face of the College Park, Ga. native along with Lou Williams of Snellville that appears on a billboard in metro Atlanta proclaiming him homegrown. That homegrown forward took the ball from Kyle Korver on a fast break, broke away from a trailing Luol Deng and delivered a one-hand slam that brought the crowd to its feet and gave the Hawks a 44-43 lead on the Bulls at halftime Saturday night. Smith scored 10 of his team-high 19 points in the second quarter, finishing with 13 rebounds for his 19th double-double of the season and added five assists as the Hawks fell 93-76. We felt we had a conceivable matchup advantage, which we did at times with Josh Smith at the (small forward) and we took advantage of it, said Hawks coach Larry Drew. J-Smoove is Atlanta, playing his entire nine-year career with the Hawks since being selected with the No. 17 pick in the 2004 draft out of Oak Hill Academy. But it's a marriage that could be nearing its end, one way or the other. Smith, who will become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, has said he believes he's a max player worthy of a contract that would pay him around 94 million over five seasons. It's a path the Hawks have been down before, giving Joe Johnson a deal worth 123.6 million for six years. It was a contract that hamstrung the organization until it chose to trade him this offseason to the Nets. So would the Hawks be willing to do it again? Should they do it again or will they trade a player who is reportedly coveted by the Bobcats, Mavericks, Rockets and Suns? There's no question what the Hawks would be missing without Smith. He's a player that has left his mark on the franchise, ranking in the top 10 in nearly every major statistical category save assists and steals and been major part of its five straight playoff appearances. With a fourth quarter block he passed Erick Dampier for 40th in on the NBA's all-time list with 1,399 over his career. The potential and the fact that he's entering his prime present a double-edge sword for the Hawks when it comes to Smith's future. A trade could give them something in return, which they won't get if Smith leaves via free agency, but it would also take away the franchise's most dynamic player and a major cog if this team wants to get past the first round of the playoffs. Though even with Smith, the Hawks struggled against a Chicago team they could face in the postseason and one that was down to eight players without Carlos Boozer, Kirk Hinrich, Joakim Noah and former MVP Derrick Rose, who has yet to return this season after knee surgery. Deng had 25 points and 14 rebounds, one of three Bulls to post double-doubles along with Taj Gibson (19 points and 19 rebounds) and Jimmy Butler (16 points and 10 boards). We got totally outplayed tonight from start to finish, Drew said. The first half wasn't pretty basketball. Coming in up one at (halftime), there should have been some signs of encouragement because we didn't play well (and were still winning.) But I didn't see any signs of encouragement. Smith, in particular, struggled in the second half. He attempted just two shots after halftime and didn't get on the scoreboard again until hitting a three-pointer with 4:50 remaining in the game. The matchup we were looking for was mainly (with Smith at the small forward) from an advantage standpoint, Drew said. The first half we got some really good baskets off of it. The second half it was just hard for us to move the basketball. We got pretty stagnant and we started isolating and it took us out of our game. The Bulls, who came in ranked third in the league in points allowed at 90.9, held the Hawks to 39.2 percent from the field overall and 6 of 19 from beyond the arc. It was a loss that ended a three-game home winning streak for Atlanta. Before the start of the fourth quarter the Lipps Inc.'s 1980s disco anthem Funky Town filled the arena as Smith stood huddled with his Hawks teammates. In the stands, a woman wearing a white Smith jersey danced as the lyrics Gotta move on gotta move on gotta move on blared. Whether it was a bit of audio foreshadowing may be decided in these coming days, 19 and counting for Smith and the Hawks.
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Report: Isaiah Thomas led charge against Kevin Love

Baker Mayfield addresses Johnny Manziel comparisons

2018 NBA All-Star Game reserves announced

Report: Rob Gronkowski in good spirits, Patriots optimistic he'll play in Super Bowl LII

Astros' Jon Singleton receives 100-game suspension

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Jalen Rose: ‘Kawhi Leonard wants out of San Antonio’

WWE fires Enzo Amore in wake of rape accusation

NFL wants Raiders to sign Kaepernick after Rooney ruling?

Jay Feely: Gisele tried to get me to convince Tom Brady to retire

Raiders to make a run at Le’Veon Bell if he becomes free agent?

Jerry Jones: Jason Garrett is not on the hot seat

The 'OK, so it's not always good to be The King' quiz

How to stop a Pats comeback: Never think you're ahead

How the Philadelphia Eagles arrived at Super Bowl LII

How the New England Patriots arrived at Super Bowl LII

Close calls: 20 MLB greats who came closest to Cooperstown but never made it

Nine reasons why the Eagles will beat the Patriots in Super Bowl LII

The surprising failure of Jason Kidd

How things have changed since last Eagles-Pats Super Bowl

The Chicago Bulls' future is on the clock

Position-by-position breakdown of Super Bowl LII teams

The 'More things change...' quiz

Greatest surprise Super Bowl stars

All Sports News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Yardbarker Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

Close calls: 20 MLB greats who came closest to Cooperstown but never made it

The 'OK, so it's not always good to be The King' quiz

How to stop a Pats comeback: Never think you're ahead

How the Philadelphia Eagles arrived at Super Bowl LII

Greatest surprise Super Bowl stars

Position-by-position breakdown of Super Bowl LII teams

Oldest players to ever be on Super Bowl rosters

The 'More things change...' quiz

How the New England Patriots arrived at Super Bowl LII

Players with the most Super Bowl appearances

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker