Atlanta Hawks forward Josh Smith was suspended for tonight’s game against Brooklyn for the proverbial “conduct detrimental to the team” after a blowup in practice Tuesday.
The team would not give specifics on Smith’s actions.
“I will just say that there was an incident in practice,” coach Larry Drew said to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “At that particular point, something had to be done. I met with (general manager) Danny (Ferry) afterward, and the rest of the staff, we actually slept on it. We all came back in agreement that we had to take the measure that we did. That we would do it, that would be our stand. After tonight’s game, again, we will embrace Josh once again.
“These type things do happen,” Drew continued, according to the AJC report. “The team has not been playing very well. We’ve been losing. I understand frustrations. He’s been frustrated. I’ve been frustrated. Other guys in the locker room have been frustrated. The unfortunate thing about this business is those type things do happen. Once they do happen, it’s a matter of handling it and moving on.”
For his part, Smith released a statement through the team that said: “Clearly I am competitive and was frustrated by our recent losses. I understand and respect the team’s actions and just want to get back on the court to do whatever is necessary to help my teammates. I apologize for letting them down and apologize to our fans for not being available for tonight’s game.”
The Hawks, after a surprisingly strong start, have lost six of their last seven games, including a humiliating 39-point loss to Chicago in which they scored a franchise-worst 59 points.
Smith is a versatile nine-year veteran who leads the team in scoring at 16.5 points and also averages 8.3 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 2.3 blocks.
Ferry, in his first season as GM with the Hawks, said: “Josh and I discussed the issue and he understood and accepted this course of action. We are confident that he will respond positively, learn from this experience and come back with a renewed sense of purpose to the team moving forward.”
Smith could become a free agent at the end of the season or the team could trade the 6-foot-9 inch flying forward if it believes it would lose him without receiving compensation.