--Josh Childress just finished his season in Greece, an uneven year that could very well send the former Hawks swingman back to the states for a second go-round restricted free agency.Childress hasn't tipped his hand about his plans for the summer. But he's a restricted free agent if he does opt out, which allows the Hawks to dive in on the negotiation front again and see if they can't get it right this summer.
His Hawks' teammates refused to speak about the prospect all season long, choosing to let things be where he was concerned. But since their season ended in a sweep at the hands of Cleveland in the Eastern Conference semifinals, they've been much more open with their desire to see him return.
"I don't know how it's going to turn out," Hawks captain Joe Johnson said. "But I know that it wouldn't hurt to have a guy like him back on this team. We know what he brings and we know how he fits with this team. He would have an easy transition because he's already familiar with everything we do."
Until Childress utters something about his intentions, the speculation will continue to swirl about a possible return to the Hawks.
--Watching a division rival vanquish the team that bounced you out of the playoffs is usually cause for disdain for most NBA players.
Josh Smith is different.
He can't bring himself to root against Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic. He and Howard have been friends since pre-school.
And even when you're fighting each other for positioning, friendship is the tie that binds for Smith, who predicts the Magic will shock the basketball world and knock off the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals.
"If we (didn't get there), I'd root for Dwight and his team to do it," Smith said. "He's worked hard to get where he is, he deserves a chance to win it all."
Smith and the Hawks lost the season series 3-1 to the Magic. But they did smash the Magic in the season opener, sending a message to their rivals and the league that they were going to be a factor.
Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said he used that early-season beating as the wake-up call to motivate his team the rest of the year.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Sure, we want to feel loved, my staff and myself. We've put in a lot of hard work over these last five years. But ultimately, it's been about my players and the job they've done. They're the ones that deserve the credit for buying into what we're doing and making sure we delivered on all the goals we set for ourselves as a team and organization." -- Hawks coach Mike Woodson, on where the real credit belongs for the Hawks' turnaround the past two years.