Atlanta Hawks: And now for something really important: J.J.

It might feel like Christmas in July for the Hawks if J.J. returns. (LOUIE FAVORITE / lfavorite@ajc.com)

It might feel like Christmas in July for the Hawks if J.J. returns. (LOUIE FAVORITE / lfavorite@ajc.com)

There’s been much hand-wringing among my blog people about the Hawks’ draft, and I get that. Even when your team is picking No. 24, and even when that team is the Hawks, the hope is that somehow they beat the odds and find a rookie who can be a major contributor for a team that won 53 games last season.

But regardless of how you feel about the draft, it was far less important than what happens over the next couple weeks. Free agency opens at midnight Thursday, when teams can negotiate with players on the market. Deals can be struck during that time but signings can’t happen until a week later. And of course the biggest deal for the Hawks is what happens with J.J.

The Hawks want J.J. back. The things outsiders debate about regarding J.J.–his age, his minutes, his isos, his leadership, his postseason fade, etc.–don’t seem to be such issues at Centennial Tower. The Hawks value J.J. not because they won’t have the ability to sign a comparable free agent if he bounces, but because he’s a heck of a player whom they’ve built their team around.

As all of the rumors have swirled about J.J. wanting to leave for more shine, because of a beef with the fans, to be part of the super summit and whatnot, I’ve maintained that if the Hawks offer him the most money he will come back. The Hawks still believe they can re-sign J.J. because they can offer him the most money, and they don’t expect cash to be the issue.

Yeah, I understand you are skeptical about that part, but that’s their perspective. The difference in the maximum the Hawks can offer Joe and what other teams can give him is substantial. The exact numbers won’t be known until the league sets the salary-cap numbers for next season, which it will do during the July 1-8 moratorium. But it’s going to be something like $119 million max over six years from the Hawks for J.J., $92 million max over five years from someone else.

That’s $27 million, and as D-Wade told reporters: “Thirty million means a lot to anybody. To Bill Gates, $30 million means a lot.”

The Hawks are less concerned about the money and more worried about the knocks J.J. takes from fans and (cough, cough) media types. They fear he might decide to play for less money somewhere else because of those issues or something else they can’t control. Maybe those concerns are valid, but I’m still waiting for someone to show me players who leave that kind of cash on the table, particularly when it’s the last big contract they will get. The best way to show a player love and appreciation is, and always has been, to show him more money.

So, to summarize . . . The Hawks badly want J.J. to return. If it comes down to money, the Hawks like their chances to re-sign him. If it comes down to something else, they will get a little nervous. I’m guessing it will come down to money and if the Hawks step up in that regard, even if it means paying him the max, then J.J. will be back.

– The Hawks have opened a dialogue with Chills, a sign that perhaps he might soften his stance on returning to Atlanta. If it’s true that his Greek team doesn’t want him, that would seem to increase the attractiveness of a return to the league. Nobody wants to be where they aren’t wanted, after all, especially when that place isn’t even the best place to ply your trade.

Also, Chill’s market value may not be what he thinks. I’ve heard that a couple teams were interested in a sign-and-trade for him last summer, but the money they were talking about offering him was less than what Atlanta was dangling before he bolted for Greece. So Chills may not get what he wants when he goes looking for an offer sheet, especially when you consider teams are even more frugal now than they were then. Combine the market realities with the lack of Olympiakos love and that one-year, $4.8 million contract from the Hawks might start to look more appealing.

– Clearing up the confusion on Pape Sy. . . . I screwed up when I blogged that L.D. thinks he can play center. My bad. The Hawks measured Sy at 6-7 in shoes. L.D. thinks he could possibly play small forward but the Hawks essentially see him as a combo guard. Now we will see if they keep him around to try and develop him, which hasn’t been their M.O. in recent years.

– The Hawks are optimistic they can put together a good summer league roster. It’s important because they want Rook’ to have a good squad to work with in Las Vegas. My bosses just gave me the OK to head out there, too, so my blog people will get some firsthand accounts of Rook’, Jordan Crawford, Sy, and L.D.’s revolutionary new offense. There’s also a slight chance I end up in a casino.

– Thanks for all the comments over the last few days. Good to see my blog people still care, even if some of you don’t care for me. It’s all love. And it’s just basketball.

– Go USA. Beat Ghana.

MC

385 comments Add your comment

Ken Strickland

June 27th, 2010
3:46 pm

TERRELL-When a HC or GM drafts a particular player, although he may not be perceived as the best available player talent wise, he just might be the best player or fit for the particular OFF and/or DEF system that HC employs.

We know LDrew will employ an OFF system that’s completely different from the ISO, jump shooting dependent one Woodson relied on. But until we know precisely what it entails, we can’t determine how effective any particular player will be at any particular position while playing within it.

As far as MWilliams is concerned, it’s not a matter of finding out if he can do better than last yr, it’s a matter of getting him to duplicate or exceed his previous level of achievement. If LDrew’s OFF system involves everyone, and if Teague runs the team properly, Marvin will produce, despite what negative minded people might say about him.

Marvin can certainly play DEF well enough to play SG, and if he’s required to move around and/or come off picks, rather than clearing out and standing around watching JJ and Crawford go ISO, or Bibby launch 3’s, he could possibly function at SG. He certainly wouldn’t be the best option, but he could be a good option.

I took a look at John Salmons’ career, and MCunningham was right, he has been very inconsistent, especially for a player with his talent. Just think about it, until getting traded to the Bucks, he hasn’t shown much consistency. And you have to factor in the fact that his play last yr was influenced by the fact his will be his last chance at a big contract.

For those who think JJ has been inconsistent and unable to rise up at crunch time, imagine how disappointed we’d all be if we signed Salmons to a big contract and he reverted back to the same inconsistent player he’s been throughout most of his career.

Anyone who thinks the Hawks will automatically become a lottery team again if we lose JJ, most not realize MWoodson is no longer the HC of the Atlanta Hawks. Here’s why I say that:

1-LDrew only has to get Marvin’s production back up to the 13-15pt range, assuming we don’t resign JChildress.

2-With JTeague replacing MBibby at PG, our overall team speed, quickness, penetrating ability and DEF will improve, as well as points and assists from the PG position. If JoCrawford starts, which is very likely if LDrew wants to maintain JaCrawford’s firepower off the bench, all he would have to do is average 13-15PPG. And by all indications, he certainly has the ability to do just that, especially in Drew’s OFF system.

We can certainly look forward to having an improved AHorford at C and JSmith at PF to go along with JTteague @ PG and JoCrawford @ SG. A bench of MWilliams, ZPachulia, MEvans and JCrawford, along with any FA’s we sign, would certainly get us back into the playoffs.

O'Brien

June 27th, 2010
3:49 pm

Ken Strickland,

LD would start Mo Evans at SG instead of JoCrawford.

As far as keeping JJ, I would like to add another opinion. Has anybody considered whether or not JJ has issues with Jamal? JJ has said he does not mind sharing with one of the big name free agents (LeBron, Wade, etc). But Jamal is not on that level, so what if JJ feels like Jamal is getting all the love in ATL?

The fans weren’t booing Jamal in the playoffs, and there were times when JJ and Jamal did not seem to mesh well on the court (who should take the last shot, who should be passing to who etc). Maybe trading Jamal is another thing the Hawks can do to appease JJ.

Trading Jamal also makes basketball sense if we can get front court depth in return.

Ken Strickland

June 27th, 2010
4:08 pm

OBRIEN-If JJ doesn’t resign, we will likely do a sign and trade with him. If that’s the case, and depending on what we get in return for him, we’d be wise to hold onto JaCrawford. Even with our offensive limitations last yr, JaCrawford made up for a lot of our OFF short comings last yr, and won numerous gms for us.

His firepower off our bench could allow us to start rookie SG JoCrawford. Again, if we get more overall production from our starting SF and PG positions, we wouldn’t have to get as much OFF production as we got from JJ at the starting SG position. Also, improve efficiency and/or production from PF-JSmith and C-AHorford would also compensate.

We also have to factor in the improvement that will come about as a result of the HC change, and the overall benefits we’ll derive from that. I may be the only one that believes this, but while having JJ on the team will make us much better than last yrs team, not having him won’t make us any worse.

drmaryb

June 27th, 2010
4:24 pm

HARD TO GET!

Don’t you get it?

Joe wants to go to Chicago and play in the shadows of Greatness!

MJ I may be gone, but LBJ may be on the way? IF so, then Chicago does not NEED Mr. Johnson
more þhan he NEEDS them! Chris Bosh would be more logical to assist James than Joe.

Joe and LBJ would be redundant playing on the perimeter!
That would be like two lesbians in a canoe – Fur Traders!

No, LBJ is looking to get a helper inside the painted area, not another guy who needs the ball out on the perimeter. That leaves Joe looking at his option #2 and realizing he is not as relevant this
Off-Season as he may have thought. There are options galore in free agency this Summer, as Mr. Johnson will soon find out, if he hasn’t already.

Maybe the delayed call to Drew was brought on by this reality or as Blue-Ray eluded to:
Common Courtesy.

tidog

June 27th, 2010
4:29 pm

Joe Johnson has been the consemate pro for the Hawks. The man obviously respects himself and in turn his team recieves the same respect. No strip club, gun club, cheating on the spouse club, smoking tree club, DWI club, female abuse club, dogfighting club incidents with the guy. He played out his original contract, imagine that, playing out your contract and not asking for a raise. Now he recieves a good bashing from the fans because he’s about to get paid for his patience. You say he’s not worth this and max is too much because he ain’t all that. The NBA market will decide how much he is worth. On a final note, look back over the playoffs and you’ll see that Lebron, Dwight, Dwayne Carmello, KG, Dirk, Tim, Steve, Amare Deron all laid eggs in the playoffs not just Joe. Peace

bigdave

June 27th, 2010
4:32 pm

Joe Johnson – When a general manager is telling reporters that he’s “keeping [his] fingers crossed” about retaining his best player, it’s never a good sign. That’s the situation in Atlanta and Rick Sund doesn’t appear too confident th, at Johnson will be back next year. The Hawks acquired shooting guard Jordan Crawford on draft night, a move that many see as insurance in case Johnson decides to leave, which is looking more and more likely each day. It was recently reported that Johnson has the New York Knicks very high on his list of potential destinations and he is the perfect backup plan for teams that miss out on LeBron James or Dwyane Wade this summer.

Read more NBA news and insight: http://www.hoopsworld.com/Story.asp?story_id=16616#ixzz0s5UU5fmd

STEEL (Formerly VenomSpitter)

June 27th, 2010
4:33 pm

Why are people BOWING DOWN to Joe like he’s somebody legendary. Many of you on this blog make Joe seem much better than what he is. He’s nowhere near a max deal player. I guess I’m one of the few ones who could care less if Joe leaves.

bigdave

June 27th, 2010
4:36 pm

bigdave

June 27th, 2010
4:38 pm

“While the Hawks hope to keep Johnson in Atlanta, several sources said the Knicks have emerged as his first choice. If they must lose him, the Hawks’ preference is to work out a sign-and-trade deal with the Knicks.”

“But if no players on the Knicks’ roster appeal to Atlanta, Johnson, believing he will make up the difference through endorsements and through buying stock shares in Madison Square Garden, is willing to take less money to play with the Knicks, according to sources.”

bigdave

June 27th, 2010
4:40 pm

“The team thinks James and Johnson would be a particularly strong tandem, and it believes that Johnson will talk to James about the benefits of joining forces in New York.”

lol..

Najeh Davenpoop

June 27th, 2010
4:40 pm

That would be pretty hilarious if he signed with the Knicks while the real superstars like LeBron and Wade either stay put or went to Chicago. I’d like to see him win 53 games with that mess of a franchise.

lewis

June 27th, 2010
4:40 pm

When I think about JJ leaving,
I compare him to Paul Pierce.

Would you want Paul Pierce, with slightly less offense, but better defense, to walk and get nothing?

terrell

June 27th, 2010
4:44 pm

Hawks 4 life, thats what FA is for. Not to mention Woody never used the bigs he had against Howard. And btw, it was Nelson and the wide open 3’s that destroyed us when we played the Magic, not Dwight. Now that’s keeping it real.

bigdave

June 27th, 2010
4:45 pm

it looks like WE are Joe’s last resort.. even if we offer him the most money..

so in my opinion.. ARRIVEDERCI !!!

lewis

June 27th, 2010
4:47 pm

PPierce Career 22/6/4
JJohnson Career 18/4/4 (scoring with the Hawks in his Career = 22 PPG)

bigdave

June 27th, 2010
4:47 pm

i wonder if they would part with Gallinari?

Najeh Davenpoop

June 27th, 2010
4:48 pm

If Joe has made up his mind to go to New York, I wouldn’t mind sign-and-trading him for Wilson Chandler and T-Mac on a one-year deal with a draft pick or two thrown in… you get someone who can potentially start over Marvin in Chandler and a guy who is at worst a massive expiring contract and at best someone who can recapture some of his old superstar magic.

Najeh Davenpoop

June 27th, 2010
4:49 pm

I will say this though — anyone trying to orchestrate going to a certain destination with another big name free agent should ask Baron Davis how that turned out. Davis agreed to sign with the Clippers under the assumption that Elton Brand would re-sign there, only to find out that Brand was bolting to the Sixers. If Joe is trying to get LeBron to come play with him in NYC, I could easily see a scenario like that playing out.

Najeh Davenpoop

June 27th, 2010
4:54 pm

Here’s the thing — if Joe stays and the Hawks keep this core intact, we are assured of having a playoff team in our city for the next 4 or 5 years, but we are also assured of never winning a title with that team. If Joe leaves, the Hawks are sure to take a big step back in the immediate future, but it leaves them with more possibilities going forward to retool the team and possibly acquire the players needed to win a title.

If I had to choose, I’d rather keep Joe, simply because I trust Joe to keep this team in the playoffs more than I trust Rick Sund to rebuild a Joe-less team into a title contender. But I gotta admit, neither option is all that great.

bigdave

June 27th, 2010
4:55 pm

co sign that 4:48 Poop..

lewis

June 27th, 2010
4:55 pm

Co-sign Najeh pretty much 100% all of the time

Najeh Davenpoop

June 27th, 2010
5:10 pm

“nobody knows exactly what Joe would look like in an actual offense.”

Well, actually, we do. In 2004, Joe put up 17 ppg, 5.2 rpg, and 3.6 apg on 46% shooting, 48% from 3, and 75% from the line. Granted, he was the 3rd or 4th option on that team, whereas he would be the 1st option on the Hawks. But I think it’s pretty telling that his shooting numbers inside the 3-point line haven’t changed all that much from his last season in Phoenix. Since he came to Atlanta, his FG% has decreased slightly (to be expected leaving Steve Nash), his 3 point percentage has come back to earth (also to be expected) and his free throw percentage has gone up.

I do think a real offense would make him a more efficient player, especially against good defensive teams. More importantly, a real offense would get the talented front court players we have involved so that Joe wouldn’t have to shoulder such a huge portion of the scoring load. But more than anything, his inability to get to the free throw line when his shot is not falling is what separates him from the true superstars in this league. That’s not going to change in a better offense or with better coaching, and that’s why Joe in a perfect world is not a max player.

O'Brien

June 27th, 2010
5:16 pm

Ken Strickland,

I agree with your post. But I think you missed my point. Larry Drew will not start a rookie (Jordan Crawford) at SG, when a guy like Mo Evans (who started at SG for Orlando 2 seasons ago and is better at SG than he is at SF) is available. In your scenario, all I’m saying is Mo Evans will start, NOT Jordan Crawford.

Najeh,

T-Mac is an unrestricted FA, so I dont think that deal would work. Are you interested in David Lee though? In the past, I have proposed the Hawks trying to sign T-Mac for 2 reasons.

1) Marketing – He was almost voted a starter in last year’s ASG, and I think fans will buy his Hawks jersey and come out to game

2) He could be a low risk, high reward player.

Najeh Davenpoop

June 27th, 2010
5:16 pm

Joe’s second year as a Hawks — the 2006-07 season — was probably his best statistical season here. He scored 25 ppg that year on 47% shooting. Most importantly, he got to the line 5.5 times a game, which is a respectable if not great number. (For comparison’s sake, though, Kobe Bryant and Paul Pierce both average about 7.5 free throw attempts per game for their careers.) I don’t think it’s any coincidence that Joe’s best all around offensive season was the one when he got to the line the most. Since then, his free throw attempts, his field goal percentage, and his overall scoring have all declined.

Granted, he doesn’t have the quickness that Kobe and LeBron have, which limits his ability to get to the rim and draw fouls, but Paul Pierce has never been quick either. Joe simply has to make a commitment to get to the line if he wants to be a max-caliber player. Unfortunately, there’s no evidence to indicate he is ever going to make that commitment again.

Najeh Davenpoop

June 27th, 2010
5:19 pm

“T-Mac is an unrestricted FA, so I dont think that deal would work. Are you interested in David Lee though? In the past, I have proposed the Hawks trying to sign T-Mac for 2 reasons. ”

I was thinking the Knicks could sign-and-trade him to the Hawks if the Hawks were to sign-and-trade Joe over there. I don’t know if a sign-and-trade for a sign-and-trade is permitted under the CBA or not, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t be. I agree that T-Mac would be a potentially high-reward player who would probably boost attendance somewhat, and wouldn’t be too risky if he was signed to a short-term deal.

I think David Lee is a terrific player, but he’s not a center. The Hawks already have two All-Star caliber PFs. I don’t know that Lee would necessarily help the Hawks fill a position of need.

terrell

June 27th, 2010
5:20 pm

Only if Joe wants to leave for NY
Sign-and-trade JJ to NY.
NY gets Joe Johnson.
Hawks get Wilson Chandler(2.5 mill), Toney Douglass(1 mill), Bill Walker(1 mill), and throw in to make the salaries match. I think the Hawks can only take back 7 mill in salary in a s&t for Joe.

Teague/Evans/Chandler/Josh/Al
Douglass/Jamal/Marvin/Zaza/Kurt Thomas(FA)
Bibby/Jo Crawford/Walker/Morris
We wont get a lot in a s&t for Joe. Especially if he if he goes to NY. Might as well get a little depth opposed to losing him for nothing.

bigdave

June 27th, 2010
5:26 pm

Najeh..

now i know how athletes feel when journalist take a quote out of context and use it in isolation.. but you’re absolutely right. however, to my point, how Joe is maximized in Drew’s mystery system where he is the primary option out of 4other “attackers” is still unknown…

Najeh Davenpoop

June 27th, 2010
5:46 pm

“If JJ doesn’t want to resign with us, we could definitely do a sign and trade with the Bulls for LDeng”

Luol Deng probably has the 3rd worst contract in the NBA, after Gilbert Arenas and Emeka Okafor. As mediocre as Marvin is, Deng gets paid twice the money for basically the same production. I don’t want any part of Deng.

drmaryb

June 27th, 2010
6:10 pm

I’M GOING TO MIAMI?

Wait! Miami does need a redundant perimeter layer to compliment Wade.
Just as Chicago doesn’t need that to assist James, Bosh makes more sense there.

Same in Miami, Boozer makes more sense to help Wade.
So, the average Joe has to look at NYC – and he thinks the – fickle fans of Atlanta booed him, then go to the
greener pastures of NYC and see what a real HOT kitchen feels like.

What next, try New Jersey and see if anyone can tolerate the antics of a Little General?

Joe is running out of options very quickly. Loyalty? Not amongst owners nor players!
LeBron has already dissed Joe and Wade will be next. Why? Because he Need them more than they Need him. Period.

IF Atlanta is Joe’s 4th option and choice, then MannyT’s scenario on Blue-Ray’s Blog this morning?
Should go into full effect! MannyT mapped out a dynamic strategy for the ASG to implement
in dealing with Mr. Johnson. “Big Willy Style”. Go check that out!

That explains Joe’s return call to Larry Drew as more than Blue-Rays back up explanation as possibly
being the courteous thing to do – or, the right thing to do! If Joe has crow in his gums?
then he need to look hard at Atlanta being a suitor WHO really appreciates and wants him back here!

All parties would be well served and the 27 million extra dollars should come in handy when he hangs up the
Nikes! Hey, if doesn’t insist on a No-Trade clause, we can always trade him down the road to the
Clippers … See Dominique Wilkins!

drmaryb

June 27th, 2010
6:18 pm

* Miami does NOT need a redundant perimeter player to assist Wade…

drmaryb

June 27th, 2010
6:22 pm

Question:

Can Mr. Johnson play without the ball in his hands – like Ray & Rip & Reggie Miller does?
If so, resign him NOW!

I believe he can play within a sound offensive system where everybody is constantly in motion.

drmaryb

June 27th, 2010
6:28 pm

IF LBJ and Bosh goto Chicago? Then no S&T is necessary to the Bulls. Then Brad Miller becomes Luc Longley and will probably stay put there! They’re instantly become the team to beat in the East

Ken Strickland

June 27th, 2010
7:33 pm

OBRIEN-I understood what you meant. The only way I see LDrew not being willing to start rookie JoCrawford is if he doesn’t demonstrate during training camp and preseason that he’s ready. Keep in mind, LDrew is only on a 2yr contract, and MEvans in in the last yr of his. I just don’t think he’ll start Evans knowing he might not be here next yr. I just don’t see him having the same stupid bias against rookies, and repeating the same stupid mistakes that doomed Woodson.

It would make more sense to start JoCrawford now and allow him to get his feet wet and learn from his mistakes. LDrew is not MWoodson. Besides, if we’re successful in resigning JChildress, his versatility and Marvin’s presence on the bench would likely signal the end of MEvans tenure here anyway.

I believe we’ll sign another center, but it will be whoever accepts our MLE. TChandler will become a FA only if he opts out of the final yr of his contract, which is expected. If he does opt out, we won’t have to make a trade to acquire him. I definitely don’t see LJames going to the Knicks. With his desire to win a championship, and after the way he reacted to losing in the playoffs the last 2yrs, there’s no way he’d go to a dysfunctional and talentless team like the Knicks.

If he leaves the Cavaliers, he will likely sign with the Bulls. I can see some serious adjustment and chemistry issue with Lebron, JJ, DRose and only one basketball. They would need a PF more than another perimeter player like JJ. I can certainly see Lebron doing some serious damage teaming up with Dirk and JKidd of the Mavericks. Even JJ would be a serious addition for that team.

The truth is, we have so many options available to us if JJ decides not to resign.

1-We can do a sign and trade with him and get a player(s) and/or draft pick.

2-We can either resign JChildress, or do a sign and trade with him as well.

3-We can sign a FA SG to replace JJ and trade JaCrawford if we do.

4-We can start rookie JoCrawford and continue bringing JaCrawford off the bench.

5-We can start JaCrawford and bring JoCrawford off the bench.

The Pistons won their last championship without a bonafide star. They did it by using the team concept and by developing and using a solid bench.

drmaryb

June 28th, 2010
2:48 am

Doc

Hey doc, thank you for your response to my Micro-Fracture questions.
I am going to goole some research articles tomorrow. It is a very interesting
topic and technology to say the least!

The Truth

June 28th, 2010
9:45 am

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