Originally posted on Fox Sports South  |  Last updated 7/6/13
Josh Smith's tenure with his hometown Atlanta Hawks has, as expected, come to an end, according to multiple media reports. Smith, 27, who is an unrestricted free agent, agreed to a deal with the Detroit Pistons on Saturday. The deal is reportedly worth four years, 56 million, according to Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski. Smith, who was drafted by the Hawks with the No. 17 overall pick in the 2004 NBA Draft, quickly became one of the most recognizable players in Hawks history, finishing on the franchise's top-10 career lists in practically every major category -- points, rebounds, blocks, assists steals, free throws and, yes, turnovers. Though occasionally performing at an All-Star level, Smith never made an All-Star team in his nine seasons in Atlanta. He heads to Detroit with career game averages of 15.3 points, eight rebounds, 2.1 blocks and 3.2 assists. While Smith's days in Atlanta was assumed to be numbered when new general manager Danny Ferry and the front office did not move to extend his expiring contract, the possibility of a sign-and-trade remained an oft-discussed topic among Hawks media, a tactic the organization apparently shied away from. However, Smith's departure continues to be part of Ferry's process of purging unwanted contracts (clearing cap space) -- i.e. last offseason's Joe Johnson trade with Brooklyn -- in order to create more flexibility to go after prized free agents. That plan did not land Dwight Howard or Chris Paul this offseason. But with 2014's big free agent class (not to mention a draft thought to be loaded with potential stars), letting go of Smith simply appears to be another big step toward making the Hawks major players in talent market and, in turn, the Eastern Conference. If there's a strategy that doesn't pay off in the NBA, it's being a fourth or fifth seed year in and year out. The Hawks' busy offseason continued yesterday with the reported signings of rebounding-machine Paul Millsap (14.6 points, 7.1 rebounds last season) and DeMarre Carroll, two Utah Jazz free agents, to separate two-year deals worth around 24 million total. On the other hand, Smith joins an up-and-coming Pistons team with a budding frontcourt of Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond. Detroit finished 29-53 last season, but with the addition of Smith, one of the most physically gifted (albeit inconsistent) two-way players in the game, expect that to improve dramatically. The Hawks made six-consecutive playoff appearances from 2007-08 to 2012-13 with Smith as one of their primary contributors.
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