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Atlanta Hawks forward Josh Smith will finish out the season with the team. / Matthew Emmons,USA TODAY Sports

Josh Smith is staying home - in Atlanta with the Hawks. For the time being.

The Atlanta native and subject of intense trade discussions was not dealt Thursday, and he will play the rest of the season for the Hawks, who are 29-23 and in sixth place in the Eastern Conference.

On Thursday, Smith said Atlanta will be on his list of teams he considers when he becomes a free agent. However, all politics is local. The Atlanta native does not want to irritate the home fans, but a person familiar with Smith's plans told USA TODAY Sports that it is "highly unlikely" that Smith re-signs with Atlanta. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the private nature of the negotiations.

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Smith, 27, had been the top player projected to be traded with an expiring contract that will pay him $13.2 million this season.

But after considering trade proposals from several teams, including a down-to-the-wire offer from the Milwaukee Bucks, Hawks general manager Danny Ferry decided to keep Smith.

Ferry, unsure if the Hawks wanted to re-sign Smith or if Smith wanted to re-sign in the offseason, searched for a deal, trying to get some value in exchange for Smith. Ultimately, Ferry didn't like the offers he received.

"We value Josh," Ferry told NBA TV. "He's been important to our program here the last several years, and I've enjoyed working with him this year. He's an important part of this team, and we look forward to finishing the year well with him."

Smith averages 17.2 points and 8.6 rebounds for the Hawks. In his nine seasons, all in Atlanta, he has averaged 15.2 points and eight rebounds.

Ferry has been remaking the team's roster since taking over in June. The team is nearly $40 million under the salary cap headed into the offseason and has seven contracts that expire after 2012-13. Atlanta also has team options on two other players.

That is significant money to spend on next season's payroll. Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard and Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul are the expected centerpieces of the 2013 free-agent class, but luring either player to Atlanta will be difficult. Ferry will try, especially in regards to Howard, who like Smith, is from Atlanta. Expect Ferry to go after Howard aggressively.

The Brooklyn Nets, Phoenix Suns, Boston Celtics, Washington Wizards and Bucks were among teams that had at least cursory discussions with Atlanta.

Atlanta's decision to keep Smith thrills a team like the Houston Rockets or Denver Nuggets, who could sign him as a free agent. Smith can earn a max contract starting with next season, but on Thursday, Smith said he has never asked for a max contract.

But he does want to get paid. If Smith lands with another team next season, the max contract he can receive is for four years, $72.39 million, starting at $16.95 million in 2013-14.

Since Atlanta holds Smith's Bird rights, it can offer him a five-year, $97.49 million deal. While that's a lot of money to leave on the table, both sides might be ready for a fresh start without the other. There's no bad blood. Just time to move on. There are good breakups.

Smith will be just 31 years old when he is due for a new contract in 2017-18. After this summer's lucrative deal, he will have the opportunity for another big payday in his early 30s.



Copyright 2014 USATODAY.com

Read the original story: Josh Smith 'unlikely' to re-sign with Hawks

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