How much is Josh Smith worth? He thinks he’s a max player.

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Josh Smith is a free agent this summer.

He will be one of the biggest names out there — 16.3 points and 8.2 rebounds a game, a borderline All-Star level player, a guy with the athleticism and potential to be one of the best bigs in the game. If you’re looking for a big who can run and finish in transition, he’s your guy.

But he’s having a down year (PER of 17.1). He still loves his long jump shots that he doesn’t knock down steadily — Smith takes 6.1 shots beyond 16 feet a game and knocks down 29.5 percent of them, compared to the 4.9 shots a game at the rim where he hits 78 percent (stats via Hoopdata). He gets 22.8 percent of his offensive chances on spot up jumpers and shoots that same 29.5 percent (via Synergy).

So how much would you offer him this summer?

If you’re one of the teams thinking about trading for him at the deadline — the Hawks are listening to offers — you better have an answer for that question. And it needs to be an answer Smith likes.

He thinks he should get a max deal, he told the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

“I feel like I’m a max player,” Smith said Friday.

“I feel I bring a lot to the table. I have a lot of versatility. For what I do and what I give this ball club, I feel like I’m worth it.”

The Hawks one max contract offer was to Joe Johnson and that was a mistake before the ink was dry on the signature. Under the new CBA this contract can’t be as painful — five years, about $94 million is the max. And unlike Johnson this contract carries Smith though what should be his peak years — ages 28-33 (which is not way over the hill for a big).

But would you give him a max deal?

I’d be hesitant. But teams that need a star are willing to overpay to get what they want, and Smith has the potential to be a franchise anchor. But after nine seasons at age 27, do you expect him to become more than he is now?

Rockets bench hams it up over Andre Roberson missed free throw (video)

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Russell Westbrook might not want to talk about his supporting cast distinctively, but it’s a real issue for the Thunder, who trail the Rockets 3-1 in their first-round series.

Even Andre Roberson, who has impressively defended James Harden, brings a glaring weakness: free throws. Roberson is 2-for-17 from the line in the playoffs, including 2-for-12 in Game 4 yesterday. Houston even repeatedly intentionally fouled him late.

It was agonizing for all but the most partisan Rockets supporters – though even Houston’s bench, while at least implicitly mocking Roberson, appeared put off that he missed yet again.

Isaiah Thomas: ‘Mentally and emotionally, I’m not here’

AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast
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Isaiah Thomas previously explained his emotions in a statement, but the Celtics guard spoke publicly yesterday for the first time since the death of his sister in a car crash just before the playoffs.

Thomas, via A. Sherrod Blakely of CSN Northeast:

“Mentally and emotionally I’m not here,” Thomas said after Game 4, the first time he has spoken publicly since his sister’s death. “So I just feed off of what the guys give me. They give me a lot of confidence. I can’t do it without those guys. They believe in me. Being here is what makes me sane and makes me feel somewhat normal through these tough times.”

Thomas has played well for Boston, which won twice in Chicago to even its series with the Bulls, 2-2. It’s remarkable considering the heavy emotional burden and extra travel, going to Seattle for his sister’s funeral then joining the Celtics in Chicago.

His teammates have clearly rallied around him, and that surely helps. But I can’t even imagine how he’s simultaneously handling such a tragic family situation and the biggest games of his career.

Kyrie Irving knocks flamingo from Pacers fan’s hands (video)

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Pacers super fan Matt Asen brings his lucky flamingo to each game.

He also annoyed the heck out of Kyrie Irving by trying to hand it, rather than the ball, to the Cavaliers guard.

James Harden reveals he’s playing through ankle injury

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James Harden didn’t lead the Rockets in scoring in their Game 4 win over the Thunder yesterday.

He didn’t even rank second – or third.

Nene, Eric Gordon and Lou Williams each outscored Harden, who scored 16 points on 5-for-16 shooting, including 0-for-7 on 3-pointers.

What happened to the Houston star?

Calvin Watkins of ESPN:

Houston Rockets star guard James Harden said he has been hobbled by an ankle injury that occurred in Game 3 of this first-round series against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Harden made the revelation to ESPN’s Lisa Salters after the Rockets’ 113-109 Game 4 victory on Sunday afternoon.

“It was pretty tough; we don’t make excuses,” Harden said in a news conference when asked about his health. “We just try to go out there and get the job done. You build trust, and trust in your teammates all year long. When there’s moments like this, guys step up and they did tonight. We have another opportunity in a few days to go out there and win on our home court, and we’re going to have to get off to a really good start.”

Many players are grinding through injuries this time of year. Is Harden’s exceptionally bad? There’s no way of telling from the outside.

But he didn’t look quite right in Game 4, and if he’s hobbled, that opens the door slightly wider for Oklahoma City to come back from its 3-1 deficit.