- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 13, 2012

DENVER (AP) - The Atlanta Hawks have no plans to deal Josh Smith before Thursday’s deadline, according to their co-owner.

“The likelihood of us trading Josh at the trade deadline is as close to zero as you can get,” Bruce Levenson told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

“There were a bunch of guys in the All-Star game that I wouldn’t trade for Josh, given what he brings not only to our team but to the community. He’s from Atlanta. He’s made terrific contributions to the community. It’s really hard, particularly in the middle of the season, to find that caliber player for Josh.”

Numerous reports have stated Smith wants out of Atlanta. But Levenson said those rumors are unfounded and that Smith has told him they aren’t coming from the player.

“I don’t know where the rumors are coming from and neither does Josh,” Levenson said. “Josh said to me, `They’re not coming from me, Bruce. They’re not coming from my agent.’”

Levenson said the Hawks have been contacted by other teams and wouldn’t definitely rule out any deal before Thursday’s 3 p.m. EDT deadline.

“Two days is a long time, at least in the trade world,” Levenson said. “Josh is a very smart guy. He understands the game, he understands the business, and he understands how highly we value him. The likelihood, at this point in the year, of us receiving anywhere remotely close to equal value for Josh Smith is very, very close to zero.

“Every day we look to make our team better. Every player in this league, with a couple of exceptions, know that they can be traded. That’s the nature of the business. If we can make our team better between now and Thursday, we’ll do it. With any player on our team it would take an offer to make our team better.”

Smith is in his eighth season with Atlanta after being taken out of high school with the 17th pick in the 2004 NBA draft. He is averaging a career-best 17.4 points and 9.6 rebounds this season.

“I don’t think this has bothered him at all, and if you look at the way he’s played, if it’s bothered him I can’t wait until it stops bothering him,” Levenson said. “The way he’s played speaks for itself.”

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