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Hawks’ Josh Smith is dead weight while awaiting payday

Josh Smith got this dunk against Bulls Monday but wasn’t giving Hawks much beyond that. | Charles Rex Arbogast~AP

Josh Smith got this dunk in against the Bulls on Monday but wasn’t giving the Hawks much beyond that. | Charles Rex Arbogast~AP

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Updated: February 21, 2013 6:37AM

BOSTON — Congratulations are in order for Atlanta Hawks small forward Josh Smith. In a matter of two seasons, he has gone from a player who finally seemed to be getting it to the poster child for everything still wrong in the NBA.

Smith is about to be a free agent, and he’s all but holding the Hawks hostage with his intentions. It’s nothing new — see Dwight Howard the last two years. The difference is Smith appears to have quit on his organization.

In an embarrassing 97-58 loss to the Bulls last Monday, Smith looked as disconnected from his teammates as any player I’ve seen in years. Firing up bad shots, horrible body language . . . here was a player with All-Star talent choosing to play like a bum.

Then, before the game Wednesday against the Brooklyn Nets, Hawks general manager Danny Ferry announced a one-game suspension for Smith for ‘‘conduct detrimental to the team’’ after an incident in practice the previous day. Coincidentally, the Hawks beat the Nets without him.

If Smith wants out of Atlanta or is fed up, no problem. The problem is turning a playoff team into a lottery team because of how he decides to carry himself on and off the court as he’s walking out the door.

The sad thing is that Smith will get paid this offseason. He’s one of the premier free agents, with the Dallas Mavericks and Houston Rockets among the teams lining up to reward him like one.

As it stands now, Smith is on the All-Mike Singletary Team, which means, ‘‘Cannot play with them, cannot win with them, cannot coach with them. Can’t do it.’’

◆ Remember when people thought LeBron James was going to Miami to play Robin to Dwyane Wade’s Batman? That was funny. James was and always has been Batman.

◆ Don’t look now, but the surging Indiana Pacers are just weeks away from possibly getting injured star Danny Granger back.

◆ Further evidence that NBA commissioner David Stern is losing it? He thinks the Detroit Pistons need not worry about moving downtown and that playing at the Palace of Auburn Hills is just fine.

Player of the week

LeBron James, Miami Heat. While Wade was getting benched in the fourth quarter and pouting, The King took the Heat on his shoulders and carried it to impressive road victories against the Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Lakers. That included a 39-point effort against Kobe Bryant and company.

Team of the week

Oklahoma City Thunder: Life without James Harden seems to be going just fine, with the Thunder on a serious roll to jump atop the Western Conference again. It looks like a two-team race out west between the Los Angeles Clippers and Thunder.

The big five

1. Heat. 2. Thunder. 3. Clippers. 4. San Antonio Spurs. 5. New York Knicks.

Big numbers

5,000 On the same night James became the youngest player in NBA history to reach 20,000 points, he also surpassed the 5,000-assist milestone. That might be more impressive, considering he’s a 6-8, 250-pound forward.

Key games for week
of Jan. 21-27

Thunder at Clippers,
9:30 p.m. Tuesday:
The two best teams in the West square off, with the Thunder already winning Round 1 in November.

Knicks at Boston Celtics, 7 p.m. Thursday: Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Garnett meet for the first time since going at it after a Jan. 7 game in which Garnett got in Anthony’s head.

Heat at Celtics, noon Sunday: Two Eastern teams that just hate each other. The Celtics still haven’t forgiven Ray Allen for leaving Boston for South Beach.

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