Unrestricted free agency next summer hangs over everything that Josh Smith does this season. For now, though, he’s enjoying his time in Atlanta and the increased responsibilities given to him by the Hawks. Per Hoopshype: “How do you explain the fact that Atlanta has improved with Joe Johnson gone? Josh Smith: ‘I think that we’re playing confident basketball. I think we have a lot of guys that are playing with a chip on their shoulders because nobody was giving us a chace to win basketball games this year. We weren’t even supposed to make the playoffs after we made that trade. We’re just trying to prove everybody wrong and playing together. We’re getting wins.’ Are you happy with your role? JS: ‘I’m happy. It’s a bigger role than what I usually had. It’s definitely challenging, but I’m up for challenges. I’m excited about what we’re doing as a ball club, as a unit.’ How has your relationship with the front office changed since Danny Ferry took over? JS: ‘I’ve always had a good relationship with the management. It’s nothing against Rick Sund, but Danny Ferry worked for a lot of successful organizations in Cleveland and San Antonio, so I think he brought that winning attitude to this team and it has trickled down to the coaches and the players.’ Are you happier with the franchise now than you were one year or two years ago? JS: I’m happy. ‘We’ve always been a successful ball club, but it’s a different feel and a different energy definitely from the past previous years. In Atlanta, a new order is going on and, you know, I’m happy with what’s taking place.’ [...] How do you feel about free agency next summer? JS: ‘This is my second time, but I’m a unrestricted free agent this time, so it’s kind of exciting just to be able to experience that for the first time. But you know, I’m just really focused on what’s going on right now with my basketball team. I’m not looking further to free agency. I’m just trying to worry about what can we do in order to be successful this year.’”