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Thrashers Relocation Looms As J.B. Smith Reports Do Not Inspire Confidence

Atlanta Thrashers fans have been waiting months to learn the identity of "The Balkan," a potential buyer who was also reportedly interested in the Atlanta Hawks and Philips Arena. J.B. Smith, a former Michigan venture capitalist, has been revealed as that shadowy figure, and some Thrashers fans are already wishing he'd stayed shadowy.

The Sporting News' Craig Custance reports Smith's alleged investment into the Pittsburgh Steelers never actually happened; in fact, Smith never even negotiated such a deal with the team's ownership. Custance then quotes Smith on the Thrashers:

Under the right circumstances we're extremely interested in keeping the Thrashers in Atlanta. We'll find out if we can afford it or not. It's only worth affording it if it's the right price.

Just to keep hammering the point home, Custance also cites a NHL source who doesn't believe Smith has pockets deep enough to purchase the entire enterprise, which he'd need to do in order to keep the Thrashers in Atlanta, as the Atlanta Spirit Group has reportedly granted exclusive negotiating rights to another group for purchase of the Hawks and the arena.

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Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.