Where the Hawks stand

Just wanted to link up some interesting information from my colleague in Atlanta, Sekou Smith, regarding where the Hawks stand as far as matching offers for forward Josh Smith, a restricted free agent whom the Clippers have interest in.

DOUBLETALK?: The standard line Hawks since last October has been that they’ll match any offers from other teams to both Smith and Childress. And up until now we haven’t had any reason to do anything but take them at their word.

But a few of the NBA veterans in Tunica over the weekend warned me not to believe that hype.

“That’s what everybody says until an offer sheet hits the table,” one guy said during an informal meeting of the minds on all things NBA. “And any good general manager keeps his options open no matter what. That’s the only way to keep from being blindsided.”

That conversation prompted me to dial up an executive from another team and ask if he believed the Hawks would stay true to their word and match offers no matter what and shun sign-and-trade offers for Smith and Childress.

And that’s when he hit me with a left hook I just didn’t see coming.

“Not only will they consider a sign-and-trade for Smith, I know that they’ve talked with one team in particular about the potential of a sign-and-trade if things get out of hand,” he said. “I also know that they’ve turned away a couple of other teams that called interested in sign-and-trades for Smith; turned them away without so much as discussing the idea conceptually. But the longer this thing drags out the more likely things could change. You remember how things played out with Joe Johnson. The Suns swore they would match and that they wanted to keep him and then when they saw the price tag Atlanta was willing to pay they negotiated a sign-and-trade. Just because you reserve the right to match doesn’t mean you will. That’s just the way the business works.”

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