Joe’s back, five questions follow

There may have been a couple of reasons for Joe Johnson to leave Atlanta, but he ended up with around 119 million reasons to stay. Many are unhappy with the size of the contract, but the Hawks only had two choices, really. Either pay your only established star player, or go in another direction with less overall talent. The Hawks knew it. Joe and his agent knew it.  Then again, how many choices did Joe really have, that he would have been happy with? What if the Hawks hadn’t offered him the max? Where would he have gone, and been comfortable? Personally, I think it was posturing more than anything else. After all, Joe would have been second fiddle almost anywhere else he could have gone, his destiny partially (and maybe largely) dependant on somebody else. A co-star at best, and paid like one. Were there any contract offers made by other teams, or did they talk more about signing him and then getting him to recruit somebody else?  Considering things like that, it’s probably no small wonder that Joe jumped on the Hawks’ contract offer within a day or two of it being made.

We could debate the merits of what the Hawks have done with this max contract, and we probably will to an extent. But let’s examine some issues and questions that must follow his signing. As these questions won’t cover all topics on the table, do feel free to add your own.

 

 

 

1) Can Larry Drew get more out of Joe Johnson?

Maybe we’re not looking for merely “more” as much as we are “better.” Joe has proven to be a 20 ppg scorer from one season to the next, but a combination of talent and being your team’s #1 offensive option gets a lot of guys to that level. Keeping that level of performance is no mean feat, however, when defenses key on you. And despite the fact that having the ball in your hands all the time helps you to 5 assists per game, you can’t get there without the ability to make good passes. Joe gives you 20, 5, and 5 every season, but the Hawks can do better things with him. What Larry Drew and the Hawks need, is to find a way to get Joe back to the form he had in 2004-2005 with Phoenix, or his 2006-2007 season with the Hawks. In other words, put him in a position to take better advantage of the shots he gets, so he can shoot a higher percentage. If Joe shoots around 47% from the field and at least 38% from 3-point territory, watch out. We’re talking closer to 25 points per game, with even more 30+ point outbursts.  If this works out, look for it to carry into the postseason as well.

2) Is Joe serious about recruiting?

Arn Tellem is a sports agent, which puts him right up there (or down there, depending on how you view it) with politicians. His suggestion that Joe is going to recruit for the team is…well…I don’t know what word should be used here. I never knew Joe cared that much, and the idea of him helping to snag Lebron is a joke, in my mind. Who has he recruited before? Who does he talk to? With a payroll ready to burst at the seams, what’s his pitch going to be? I’m having a hard time going for this one. Not necessarily because of Joe himself, but because of where the words came from. Does Joe even know who the Hawks might be targeting, and does he agree with the acquisition of such players? Does a max contract deal include provisions for recruiting and influencing decision-making processes (I thought they hired some guy named Bob to handle personnel stuff)? I can see Kobe with that kind of pull. Lebron, definitely. Wade, even. But Joe? Maybe he’s been tabbed as Hawks pitch-man to whomever they decide to try and sign, as part of his bangin’ new contract (insert mildly sarcastic tone here). Should we even take this seriously? Maybe we shouldn’t give this another thought until we hear something from Joe’s mouth.

 

3) What about those chemistry issues?

Love conquers all. Oops, maybe that’s supposed to be money.

If I’m Joe, and there are real, live issues in the locker room, I’d be on the phone discussing that with Larry Drew. Better yet, make it a “dinner date.” Then, I’d be on the phone with my teammates. Joe is getting paid like a mega-superstar and he is the team captain. Forget recruiting, how about reinforcing the idea of buying into whatever it is that Larry Drew is selling? How about helping to forge the team into a more serious, hard-working unit? How about working with guys like Al Horford to cultivate a winning atmosphere, rather than one where serious adversity results complete implosion? Sure, this is going to be Larry Drew’s job, but team leaders have to take on a role. Joe need not be the guy sounding the rallying cry on the court, or the fist-pumping and chest-thumping rah-rah type. But he does need to be a steadying, polarizing force. Help get the guys to work hard and serious in practice, everybody already knows how to have fun and act up. Help guys to stay focused in the locker room and in the huddle. Do the behind-the-scenes glue work. Isn’t that what “quiet” guys do?

 

4) Can Marvin Williams be salveaged?

Big question. Sund and Drew have to think hard on this, because there may be a deal right around the corner where Williams would have to be involved. Can Drew turn Williams into a viable offensive option? Some say Marvin’s problems begin and end with former coach Mike Woodson. Others say that he has never had the talent to be effective. Both lines of thinking tend to be on the far end of either spectrum, and neither has anything to do with his rebounding and defensive production. It does bear noting, however, that Marvin’s shot attempts have declined since the ‘07-’08 season. And before you say it, yes, he had more shot attempts this past season (664) than he did in ‘08-’09 (622). But you would be forgetting something. Marvin played in 81 games last season, as opposed to just 61 in the season prior to that. His shot attempts per game went down by 2 per game from ‘08-’09 to ‘09-’10. Still, this doesn’t explain his frequent hesitation to drive the ball without an open lane, his awkward angles to the basket, or his pedestrian shooting from the arc. Can Marvin remain a viable part of the core of this team, or is it time to move on? Any deals that come to the table involving a bigger player to help Al Horford in the post may only serve to complicate things.

 

5) What will happen with Josh Childress?

The Hawks lost Childress’ services for two years straight, but now he wants to come back to the NBA. Or so it’s being reported. Count me among those who think Childress won’t wear a Hawks uniform again in this lifetime, but I could be wrong. There have been reports that the Wizards and other teams are interested in him. Should the Hawks try to bring him back to the fold, or should they try to move him for other players/assets? When he was here, Childress was the perfect glue guy on the court by playing smart and hustling all the time. No doubt the Hawks could use that now. However, he may want to ply his trade elsewhere. With Joe back in the fold, the Hawks should be able to get moving on this front, and see how they can make it work for them. As unlikely as it may or may not be, Childress could come back and play for the one year qualifier of $4.8 million, just to get his foot back into the NBA door. Or, the Hawks could find a way to peddle him off for something else.

 

Summer is in full swing.

219 comments Add your comment

Melvin

July 7th, 2010
5:21 pm

How dumb does Joe Dumars look now. Instead of saving the cash last summer and being a player in this summer great FA class, he spends the money on Charlie V and Ben Gordon. That comes after the Darko and Stuckey pick and Billups trade. Why is he still employed as a GM?

Melvin

July 7th, 2010
5:24 pm

Boozer and Amare will be in the east next season. Will the west have any bigs next season? Heck, even if we move Al to the PF, I can’t seeing him make the ASG as forward over Boozer, Amare or Bosh. You know KG and Lebron will be the starting forwards….

MannyT

July 7th, 2010
6:10 pm

Now let the Bulls not get LbJ but add 2 pieces that get above MLE. That could be a very good team.

@Astro, if comfortably is 6th or 7th seed, that could be. If comfortably is playoffs locked by April 1st, I would be very skeptical. All this is w/o LbJ.

O'Brien

July 7th, 2010
6:35 pm

If I’m the bulls, and I miss out on lebron, my 2 shooters would be Kyle korver (starting SG) and Anthony morrow off the bench.

I would also sign a Guy like Matt Barnes to come off the bench, and of course a backup PG.

and the bulls would still not be over the cap.

Astro Joe

July 7th, 2010
6:55 pm

Manny, yes, I’m thinking no worse than a 6th seed, I think those guys will respond like UGA after ‘Nique left and they made the Final Four. Guys will have to play and not defer (or stand there and watch) and that should help the team. Just like some believed that a Hawks team without iso Joe (and the player) would survive, I think the same of the Cavs. The long-term problem is that not too many FAs will be interested in going to Cleveland, so they may not get too much better any time soon.

OB, I agree, Korver or Roger Mason or Ray Allen would top of their season. They have to allow room for the raises that are coming for Rose and Noah. And those guys will likely take a 2-3 year deal that is easy on the ledger.

I wonder if all of the pundits will continue to wax poetic about the Western Conference after the summer is complete. Weren’t Amare and Boozer the biggest FAs from that conference this summer (other than Dirk who stayed home)?

Astro Joe

July 7th, 2010
7:04 pm

Another one speaks the turth:

John Krolik of Cavs: The Blog on Chris Bosh: “It may behoove us to take a look at Bosh’s NBA career to date. He was drafted in 2003, just like LeBron was. He has won a total of three playoff games in seven seasons. He has not played a playoff game since 2008. He has been named to the All-NBA second team once. He has fewer player of the month awards than LeBron has MVPs. He was the starting power forward for the worst defensive team in basketball last season. This dude is NOT a franchise player, but he’s become part of the ‘LeBron-Wade-Bosh’ trinity because he’s a very good young big man in the summer of 2010 and doesn’t have Amar’e Stoudemire’s baggage.”

O'Brien

July 7th, 2010
7:23 pm

AJ,

Mike Miller is also available. The one thing messing up the bulls is the horrible contract they gave Deng.

I’m a GT fan and a bosh fan. But he is overrated. Miami will have to get a defensive center (and probably resign Joel Anthony for backup), and get a defensive guard to start at PG. Plus they still need a shooter.

Astro Joe

July 7th, 2010
7:44 pm

Good news for the ASG, I’m pretty sure this luxury tax threshold is higher than expected.

ajchawks League just announced 2010-11 cap set at $58.044 mil and luxury tax level is at $70.307 mil. MLE=$5.765 mil

Astro Joe

July 7th, 2010
8:05 pm

Joe probably picked up an extra $2M with those cap numbers also. I wonder if he can walk into a car dealership with an article about his new contract and ask for one in red, black and white be delivered to his house by dinner time and then walk out? He could certainly do that at a few gentlemen establishments in Atlanta :twisted:

Melvin

July 7th, 2010
8:15 pm

With a 70mil lux tax, shoul we expect to see the Hawks payroll at 73 mil… 70 + 3 mil from selling the 31st pick…

O'Brien

July 7th, 2010
8:49 pm

Melvin,

More like $70 mil + $1.5 mil into tax (because they have to pay $1.5 tax penalty).

Melvin

July 7th, 2010
9:31 pm

Looks like the Hawks has the league min for summer league roster…

http://www.nbadraft.net/2010-nba-las-vegas-summer-league-game-schedule-rosters

Melvin

July 7th, 2010
9:33 pm

OB,

I thought the idea was to use the entire 3mil on the lux tax. In your example, they would only be using 1.5 mil….

Astro Joe

July 7th, 2010
9:50 pm

Melvin, the tax is double. So if you spend $1.5 over the threshold, Stern will issue a tax for another $1.5M. And that extra $1.5M gets distributed to non-luxury tax teams.

Astro Joe

July 7th, 2010
9:52 pm

daldridgetnt Breaking: Ray Allen staying with Boston with two-year, 20M deal. story up soon on NBA.com.
.
WojYahooNBA Jermaine O’Neal is leaning toward signing with Boston, but still considering Denver, league sources tell Y! Decision will come soon.

Astro Joe

July 7th, 2010
10:00 pm

Melvin, that link is dated from like 2 weeks ago. Chances are that a few more players will be added after the Orlando league and the Hawks rookie camp in a few days.

MannyT

July 7th, 2010
10:10 pm

You guys are also leaving out the loss of the payment for being under the cap. That’s probably a loss of $3 mil right there.

On a looking down the road a year, the chances of a lockout just went up with the higher salary cap. Revenues went up this year. Cap goes up. Why would players want less? Owners want players to have less. 2011-12 is the year of the lockout or the year of the players take a pay cut.

http://probasketballtalk.nbcsports.com/2010/07/nba-salary-cap-to-increase-next-year-which-sadly-means-a-lockout-is-more-likely.php

JSS

July 7th, 2010
10:32 pm

@ Big Ray…
This is the beginning of the start of “freshing” scripts for all of the new dramas which will be rolling out into production this month. I was juggling those over the holiday and watching the Orlando Summer League and the World Cup.

Well you asked…
“3) What about those chemistry issues?”
Well that the ‘64,000 Dollar Question,’ can Joe Johnson realize that he’s our George Gervin and do it within the context on the team game. Josh Smith and Marvin Williams need gurus. People who can get inside of their enigmatic personalities and clean out the goop. I said in a post that was eaten up by the blog monster the other day that Scout Greg Ballard needs to take Marvin and Josh aside and introduce them to tapes of Bob Dandridge and himself during their 1977-1980 run in Washington. I had the pleasure and pain of watching 1979 NBA Eastern Conference Finals when Gervin and Dandridge within the context of their respective teams offenses went off like 4th of July fireworks. No long range bombs, mid range jumpers and driving to the rack by marginal ball handlers in a smart way! Beautiful!!! Josh should never be a 3 in the classic sense; but he can play it and still be a help defender. It takes the 1 and the 2 shutting their counterparts. Remember, the only Hawk that made LeBron even flinch once was when Woody reluctantly put Josh on him during waning minutes of the 1st half of Game 3 in 2009.

So chemistry, is it a matter of Bibby? Jamal? Or the “Squirrelly three” (Joe, Marvin, and Josh)? It is up to Larry Drew to work out the therapy and cure the patients! It is not a “Joe on the phone” issue. He needs to get on a plane, bring his teammates together and Oakland A’s style hash it out!

“4) Can Marvin Williams be salvaged?”
See above… I’ve talked that one blue, should have been Larry Drew’s 3rd phone call… 1. Joe, 2. Josh, and 3, Marvin… A FedEx package of clips of “Disappearing Marvin” should have been arriving at the moment he made the call. He has till the trading deadline… Hasn’t been the same since before he got hurt and exposed before the beginning of the ‘09 playoffs…

“5) What will happen with Josh Childress?” Something has to give, I think they are making their play for a MLF center before facing the music on Josh C. If they get what they want and get over the Luxury Tax cap, then I think bring Chillz back and roll the dice. If they implode, expiring Jamal and Chillz get fed to the UFA wolves next Summer. Marvin is gone by the trading deadline at a loss.

That’s how I see it…. Thanks!!!

JSS

July 7th, 2010
11:19 pm

Oh well gloom and doomers, the cap is Two million higher!!! Go get us some players!!!

Melvin

July 7th, 2010
11:21 pm

Astro,

Look like we will have to cross Jermaine off our list. Probably Shaq as well…. Man it sucks to be a Hawks fan sometimes…

O'Brien

July 8th, 2010
7:53 am

Melvin,

I think another thing that will hurt the Hawks, is we seem to do a lot of waiting around.

Our best bet might be to go (aggressively) after some young (maybe unproven) guys, like Anthony Morrow, Joel Anthony, Rodney Carney, because most veterans tend to choose contenders (if the money is close).

Also, we traded for Jamal at the end of June last year. I think Rick needs to be ready to made trades once LeBron signs, because teams with cap space will act quickly.

I know that we are interested in Shaq, but I think its interesting that a team like Boston with established team leaders and an established coach, are concerned that he might mess up their chemistry.

I still think he is a risk worth taking though, if he accepts his role as 20 mpg off the bench.

kwooden1

July 8th, 2010
8:12 am

Manny, thanks for the cap information.

Melvin, looks like your right, we won’t be able to get a quality big again for another season. I think were going to have to get another Collins type guy and hope he can perform.

Melvin

July 8th, 2010
9:16 am

KW,

If that’s the case, then let’s start the rebuilding now (AGAIN) b/c another Collins or Joe Smith type player will not make us championship caliber. At the end of the day, talent wins… Either you have it or you don’t…

kwooden1

July 8th, 2010
9:38 am

Yahoo is reporting that the Raptors have signed Kleiza a 4yr 20M offer sheet. This could be a sign that Chills is ready to come back from Greece also. If Chills gets the same offer, I think we should match and then look to make a trade.

Astro Joe

July 8th, 2010
10:21 am

Kleiza is better than Kapono but they have very similar skill sets. That seems like a strange use of limited funds, unless they plan to move Kapono. Denver may be in a tough position because if Melo doesn’t sign his extension, then Kleiza becomes more valuable for them long-term.

Meanwhile, Childress has about 1 week to notify his Greek team if he staying or going. If he returns, he has to deal with tax issues AND a likely lockout next summer without a guaranteed contract.

Melvin

July 8th, 2010
10:36 am

Astro,

I think some team will show Chills the money this summer. I’ve read that alot of teams are looking at him. Now if a team sign him to MLE or higher then will the Hawks match? Remember, Sund told him to go find an offer 2 summers ago. Will the Hawks let Chills walk for nothing?

WWSD????

O'Brien

July 8th, 2010
10:58 am

I think Chills will sign an offer sheet before July 15, so that will let his Greek team know he is leaving. But with us having Marvin for 4 more years, $30 mil, we can’t afford Chills anymore (even at $5 mil per year).

Regardless of his offer, I don’t think the Hawks will match. Hopefully he will sign somewhere we can work out a trade (like Washington maybe).

kwooden1

July 8th, 2010
10:59 am

Astro,

I watched a few videos of Kleiza and Chills in the Euro league and Kleiza actually much more of a scorer. He likes the ball in his hands and wants to make things happen. I think he’s going to Toronto because he wants to start, probably in DeRozan place. Kleiza has the body type of a SF/PF but I think he likes to play like a SG.

Astro Joe

July 8th, 2010
11:16 am

kw, it almost sounds like you’re describing another Raptor. A Euro player who prefers to play with the ball in his hands. Sounds remarkably like Turkaglu.

Astro Joe

July 8th, 2010
11:27 am

Melvin & OB, I agree, but it need to happen sooner than later. I doubt that they will want to wait until the day of 7/15 to notify the Greek team. And for the reasons previously stated, retunring may not be the best financial move at this point. It was the right financial decision during the first 2 years of the deal, but I don’t think that is the case in this last year.

Big Ray

July 8th, 2010
11:32 am

JSS ,

Good answers.

Big Ray

July 8th, 2010
11:42 am

I think the Bulls did well to get Boozer. Yes, his contract looks ugly. They all do. But Boozer is a better defender than he seems, he’s a quality 20 and 10 guy, and he presents an opportunity that is very important, but overlooked: He can be the team’s top scorer or top co-scorer, taking that pressure off of Derrick Rose. You don’t want your pg to have to be the top scorer, no matter how good he is.

I think Boozer is a better defender in the post than Chris Bosh, who seems to be tagging along with Wade, despite all the yapping about wanting to be a team’s centerpiece. If Boozer remains healthy, he helps Chicago be a much more dangerous team than they’ve been in the past. Finally, a solid low post scorer who rebounds as well. Taj Gibson off the bench in a 25-28 mpg role, Noah manning the 5 spot as a hustling/defending/rebound gobbling presence. We won’t be able to beat these guys like a drum, like we used to.

I’ll be working on a new blog after the LBJ foolishness is over. I hate to wait for it, but the nature of this blog kinda depends on the fallout from that…

O'Brien

July 8th, 2010
12:00 pm

AJ,

I think its in his best interest to come over now before the new CBA (even if there is a new lockout next year). And the rumor is the Greek team does not want to pay all that money due to the nex tax laws over there.

Ray,

If LeBron really wants to win, I think Chicago is the place to go. because you add him to that team, they are better than Miami with minimum salary guys

Big Ray

July 8th, 2010
12:12 pm

That, and he doesn’t share the ball and spotlight with Mr. T-Mobile.

Is it just me or has Chris Bosh become the new Mo Williams? I hate to see a grown man tag along behind another one the way Mo Williams did with Lebron in Cleveland, and the way Bosh is now doing with Wade.

Big Ray

July 8th, 2010
12:14 pm

I don’t think Lebron has the winning mentality and drive that guys like MJ, Magic, Larry, and Kobe had/have. That’s why he doesn’t win.

How can you let yourself be called the King when you haven’t won a dang thing (besides some MVP awards)? He even sucked in the Olympics. Well, not sucked, but he wasn’t too good. Dwight looked better than he did. Stephon Marbury looked better than he did. All I can remember about Lebron and the Olympics is his best John Starks impersonation from the free throw line. That was the time we didn’t make it, before Kobe came on the scene and led us to the gold medal.

O'Brien

July 8th, 2010
12:58 pm

From Bill Simmons on espn.com;

If one more person refers to Bosh as a “superstar,” I’m going to scream. His résumé: seven seasons, 11 career playoff games, one second-team All-NBA selection, never played in a big game in his life other than the gold-medal game of the 2008 Olympics.

Now he’s fleeing frigid Toronto for South Beach, no state income tax, Dwyane Wade, max money and the playoffs … and this makes him a “superstar”? Did we really drop our standards that low?

Big Ray

July 8th, 2010
1:08 pm

After watching what Damion James is doing for the Nets in the summer league, my pang of buyer’s remorse hasn’t gone away.

I sure hope Jordan Crawford impresses. That’s really all I can say right now…

Big Ray

July 8th, 2010
1:09 pm

O’brien ,

No matter what anybody thinks of him, Bill Simmons hit the mark on that one.

Astro Joe

July 8th, 2010
1:20 pm

I previously posted another writer’s view on Bosh. OVER-RATED. I once heard someone call him the modern Shareek Abdur-Rahim. That may be a little strong but it is a lot closer to being true than this current adoration for him.

Anyway, here’s a good article on Joe’s contract by Lang Whitaker, a vocal Hawks fan:

http://www.slamonline.com/online/blogs/the-links/2010/07/links-about-that-joe-johnson-contract/

doc

July 8th, 2010
1:21 pm

heh heh, i’d call bosh a rich man’s version of pippen. shameful but laughing all the way to the bank.

Astro Joe

July 8th, 2010
1:23 pm

Ray, what did James do in the summer league? I haven’t been paying close attention to any of the games (yet). I did watch a llittle of the Thunder-Sixers game yesterday and was impressed with Mustafa Shakur, as a 3rd PG prospect.

doc

July 8th, 2010
1:26 pm

jss, glad you passed, too! big ray can be a pretty hard judge from time to time. power freak you know, cant wait to push the in the can button he wields or some think.;-)

what is the betting line of la queen staying or going, las vegas or great britain got a line on it?

cant wait, yawn. it can topple the nba world if riles gets his way.

niremetal

July 8th, 2010
1:36 pm

Did someone say something positive about Bill Simmons :evil:

Astro Joe

July 8th, 2010
1:48 pm

And I have to say, listening to Steve Smith broadcast the summer league games made me sad. He’s not exactly Hubie Brown, but he is SOOOO much better than our beloved local legend.

Astro Joe

July 8th, 2010
1:56 pm

OOF, James scored 30 and went 3-5 from deep. OUCH! Melvin, I see that Orton pulled down 0 rebounds in 17 minutes. How do you manage that as a center? 0 boards?

niremetal

July 8th, 2010
2:06 pm

Didn’t Shelden and Acie make the all-Summer League first team way back when? Sorry, but these are one step above pickup games. I give them zero weight.

Melvin

July 8th, 2010
2:06 pm

I haven’t seen James game today but I will watch the replay tonight (instead of the Lebron special) but until today his play has been ok. He was shooting it everytime his hand touches the ball. Now who really impress me is Lance Stephenson. I think a lot of teams are going to regret passing on him. 6-5, 220 and he can play PG. Dude has been ripping it up in the summer league…

Melvin

July 8th, 2010
2:16 pm

With news of Jermaine agreeing to sign with the Celtics along with a 4 team (Hou,Char,Tor,Mia) trade. We can cross JON and Chandler off the Hawks FANS wish list of bigs….

doc

July 8th, 2010
2:26 pm

nire i think shels looked like a bust even in the summer league. that was the first suggestion of what was to come.

Astro Joe

July 8th, 2010
3:16 pm

James was drafted after pick #20, so no need to pay any attention to those guys anyway. They are just destined for a practice squad role (at best) or bus rides in the NBDL.

Melvin, did you see our summer league roster yet? It looks like Teague may get every minute at PG. He should arrive at the vet’s camp full of confidence and with a coach who will give him every opportunity to shine.