First, the New York stuff. J.J. went through the media wringer there like all big-name (he is, right?) free-agents-to-be. Speculation was that Johnson’s history with Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni and agent Arn Tellem’s relationship with Donnie Walsh could lead to J.J. signing with the Knicks.
Johnson didn’t say he won’t leave the Hawks and there’s no reason, financial or otherwise, for him to do so. He told reporters he’d have no problem playing in New York and was open to seeing what other teams have to offer. But he didn’t give many hints about his intentions.
“Everybody (in New York) makes so much of it because (of) D’Antoni,” Johnson said. “Me and him got a good relationship. That is always going to be kind of scrutinized and everybody wants to know what’s what. So we’ll see. I don’t know what is going to happen, to be honest with you.”
One thing that gets lost in the Johnson speculation is that Tellem approached the Hawks about an extension last summer. That indicates a desire for Johnson to stay, right? If Tellem really was trying to steer J.J. to New York why would he do that? Plus, i’ve always thought it’s a bit paternalistic when it’s suggested agents influence players to that degree. Tellem works for J.J., not the other way around.
Anyway, the Hawks offered a four-year deal in excess of $60 million but Johnson decided against it at the last minute. He’s gambling that he can secure a more lucrative deal from the Hawks or another team as a free agent. During All-Star weekend Johnson, who is making nearly $15 million this season, said he would “love to” re-sign with the Hawks.
So depending on when he’s asked and how deeply you want to read into it, Johnson either wants to re-sign with the Hawks, would welcome a move to New York, isn’t interested in a rebuilding franchise or really truly doesn’t know right now (my vote).
“That all can wait until when the season is over and we have completed what we are trying to do here,” Johnson said. “I am trying to not let none of that be a distraction to me or my teammates and just have fun like we’ve been doing.”
It’s not been so fun for THHB. Well, maybe it has, but he (it?) says Joe needs to go because of age, money and usage rate. THHB’s reasoning is sound but, in my view, premature.
If the Hawks make it to the Eastern Conference finals and make a good showing with J.J. as the centerpiece, and the Hawks believe they really are close to breaking through, would (could) they let J.J. go and turn it over to Josh, Al and whatever talent they can acquire in a sign-and-trade? Doesn’t it happen all the time in the NBA that true contending teams overpay for centerpiece players they know will be in decline during the back end of the deal for a shot at winning it all?
And isn’t that one of your frequent complaints about ASG, that it doesn’t spend the money to go for it? Somehow I don’t think it would go over too well if the Hawks let J.J. go after a strong postseason run and say “Well, we were close to the Finals but we have to manage our finances, Joe is getting old, he needs the ball too much and so we wish him well. Here are some new players.”
Of course, if the Hawks flame out in the first round or get handled again in the second with J.J. jacking up iso jumpers then please refer back to THHB’s take and forget I ever wrote this.
– Coincidentally, here is my Iso-Joe update after 17 games of tracking: 38 possessions, 37 points, four misses by teammates, one turnover, and three offensive rebounds by teammates. The production has dropped off lately to .97 points per possession for Iso-Joe. If extrapolated out for the entire season and compared to the league offensive efficiency rankings season (which I know really shouldn’t be done but I’m doing it anyway ), those numbers would put fourth quarter Iso-Joe somewhere in T-Wolves and Nets territory (but check my math on that, non-mathematically challenged blog people)
– I looked back at a post from Hawks blog legend Sekou from back around the time the Hawks were considering an extension for J.J. Man, things have changed these last few months. His blog people (a few of them still my blog people) were dang near begging for a deal to get done. Not so much anymore.
– Humor me for a minute, blog people, while I relate my little tale.
The Hawks visited the White House this morning. I somehow passed the background check and made the list, too. Sweet. Hopped in a cab (which really was one of those shady car service deals without a meter) to head over to Hawks’ hotel so I could get on their bus. Tell the driver the name of the hotel, he asks me for the address. Tell him the address, he starts punching it in a GPS.
Me: “Um, you know where it’s at, right? It’s a major hotel.”
Him: “Sure, no problem!”
There’s a bunch of traffic, so I ask him if there’s a way around it. “Sure, no problem!” It takes us 10 minutes just to double back to where we just left. Eventually we run into construction and even more traffic than before. The driver is blasting French talk radio and the annoying GPS voice is loudly barking directions that the driver isn’t following. It’s loud, we are barely moving and I’m shook, thinking I’m going to miss my chance to meet the President of the United States of America because of an incompetent cabby.
We get to the hotel 50 minutes after leaving, 10 minutes too late for me to catch the Hawks’ bus. The guy tells me it’s $25 when it was $15 for me to get to my hotel from the same point. There’s a cop right there, so I didn’t argue (but I also didn’t tip). I hop the subway to the Verizon Center to wait for the Hawks’ shootaround. I tell Washington Post Wiz beat writer Michael Lee about my adventure, he says the cab ride should have taken no more than 10 minutes, 20 tops with traffic.
Eventually Hawks PR man Arthur Triche texts me that shootaround is canceled. I asked if the team met the president, scared of the answer. Triche says they didn’t because the president was in policy meetings. So it turns out I didn’t have to find that driver and choke him, I am not in jail and I’m still your beat writer.
– Talk amongst yourselves, Hawks fans.