Did the Hawks learn nothing from their most recent public relations disaster?If you hadn't heard, the Hawks became the first team in NBA history to lose a young, restricted free agent to a team from another country. Josh Childress left the Hawks last week for a three-year, $20 million offer from Olympiacos in Greece.
Slow-paced negotiations with Childress' representatives cost the Hawks in that deal. And a similar negotiating tactic could cost them the services of fellow restricted free agent Josh Smith, too.
The Hawks aren't any closer to getting a deal done with Smith than they were on July 1, when the free agency period began.
"We don't feel like there has been much difference in our conversations from July 1 until now," one of Smith's agents, Wallace Prather, said last week. "But I'm optimistic that in the end, what is best for Josh is what will happen."
Hawks general manager Rick Sund, who has taken plenty of the heat for the botched Childress deal, remains confident that the negotiating process will continue amicably.
"One of the things that I think is important in the process is to have the integrity and professionalism to not negotiate in the newspapers," Sund said. "I said that in the beginning to Josh Smith's (representatives) and they haven't said a whole lot. They've done an excellent job representing their client. The bottom line is we've had a lot of dialogue, but it's not done yet."
The sides remain far apart on a salary figure that pleases all sides -- the Hawks have offered Smith a five-year contract at $9 million a year while Smith's camp wants something along the lines of the $11 and $12 million per season being doled out to the likes of Monta Ellis, Luol Deng and Emeka Okafor.
On the surface, that doesn't seem like a huge difference, but neither side has shown any signs of being willing to bend or compromise.
If this saga continues into September, it's hard to imagine Smith wanting to remain with a team that didn't show more interest.