Atlanta Hawks: All-in with max offer for Joe Johnson

When the Hawks meet with Joe Johnson in Los Angeles soon after the start of the free-agency negotiating period at 12:01 Thursday they are prepared to offer him a six-year contract for the maximum amount allowed, according to people with knowledge of their plans.

The exact amount of maximum contracts won’t be determined until a league audit is completed over the next week, but it’s expected to total about $119 million for a player with Johnson’s experience. The other teams making pitches to Joe can only offer him five years at about $92 million. I still believe that a gap of up to $27 million or so will be too much for Joe to turn down regardless of what other teams have to say about teaming up with LeBron or Bosh (or both), earning more in endorsements, or anything else not having to do with $27 million.

As a Bird-rights free agent, Johnson is eligible to receive from the Hawks a six-year contract starting at about $15.8 million with maximum raises of 10.5 percent in each year (the raises are based on the first-year salary and don’t compound). Keeping in mind that the numbers are not finalized, the year-by-year breakdown of the contract would look something like this: $15.8 million in 2010-11, $17.5 million in 2011-12, $19.4 million in 2012-13, $20.8 million in 2013-14, $22.4 million in 2014-15 and $24.1 million 2015-16. Joe would be 34-years old during the final season of the deal.

Before you ask, I’m wearing my beat writer’s beanie and keeping my opinion on this move to myself. Bret LaGree at Hoopinion . THHB at Peachtree Hoops and atl_hawk_luv at Hawks Str8Talk all offer reasonable takes on why they don’t like a max deal for J.J.

In analyzing this for yourself, keep in mind that the Hawks wouldn’t have the cap flexibility to find a comparable replacement for Joe in free agency. So if you want him gone, it means accepting that the Hawks probably wouldn’t be as good without him in the short term (LaGree and atl_hawk_luv explained why they think that’s OK). Also remember that if Joe accepts the deal and continues to produce at his current level for a couple years he could be a very tradeable asset in the future; his contract wouldn’t necessarily become an albatross.

MC

672 comments Add your comment

Aaron

June 30th, 2010
4:14 pm

I’m going to cry.

MC, please, please, please assure us there’s a secondary move to acquire a player good enough to justify this $120M offer.

Joe's place Joe speaking

June 30th, 2010
4:15 pm

Número Uno!

Michael Cunningham

June 30th, 2010
4:19 pm

@Aaron: “don’t cry . . . dry your eyes.” a deal now? not that i’ve heard. they would still have the mid-level and bi-annual exceptions if they re-sign J.J. and of course they also could make trades.

@Joe’s place: feel the shame of a failed firstie.

chuckw/deadjournalist

June 30th, 2010
4:21 pm

this would be fail.

Mac

June 30th, 2010
4:22 pm

That last paragraph is the reason why this reported, “reported” being the key word here, offer is not as crippling as we all initially felt.

bmoney

June 30th, 2010
4:23 pm

His contract will be more of an albatross. No team will want to trade for that. The cap number will be coming down after new CBA meaning and it’s likely to be a hard cap. Meaning that the Hawks will not be able to exceed it under any circumstances. Do we want to tie up 40% of future cap space for Joe?.

kelvin davis

June 30th, 2010
4:23 pm

joe johnson will resign with us and then lets go get tyson chandler or al jefferson

Adair

June 30th, 2010
4:25 pm

Say goodbye to the conference finals for the next 6 years

cdog

June 30th, 2010
4:26 pm

joe johnson should be glad for anything he gets.he’s fooling himself to believe he is in the class of lebron james, paul pierce, koby bryant or even dywane wade.he is not a money player by no means

Joe Don't Go Squad

June 30th, 2010
4:29 pm

Hawksfan

June 30th, 2010
4:30 pm

If the Hawks give JJ the max I might be done with this team, This will kill our franchise for years.

Steve

June 30th, 2010
4:30 pm

In almost any scenario, we are a worse team without Joe. Hope he takes it, stays healthy, improves, and is still a great ballplayer at 34. If he snubs it for less money, try to do a sign and trade, an get as much as possible for him. In life, not every move is a great move, but this is the best move. Get a Center, PG, and we might can make a run at this thing this year.

Next yr., we’ll probably offer Jamal low and maybe lose him to FA. Bibby probably get’s sacked with his 6 mill. Then we sign Horford to a long term deal.

ian

June 30th, 2010
4:31 pm

MC, any chance this max-signing is the first step in a sign and trade? even if both parties don’t know it at present?

cdog

June 30th, 2010
4:32 pm

the hawks should seriously do a sign and trade deal with him now.he’s not going to get any better let alone lead them to a championship.while he has a little value now, the hawks should trade him to dallas or someone who can give you young talent who going to help the team win now.johnson is as good as he’s going to be now.two years ago, he fell out of favor when everyone else was pushing for the title but he was complaining about being tired instead of sucking it up and pushing himself.he showed me he had no character. dywane wade was beat up but he fought in every game to win.johnson did not, because he have no character or the will to win.he’s only in it for a pay check.

HawksFan

June 30th, 2010
4:32 pm

Joe Johnson is a level 1-B player. Only 1-A players deserve that kind of cash and the Hawks are reaching here at best.

They are essentially tie’ing their own hands and keeping themselves from competing for anything meaninful for the next 6 years.

Maybe Drew can make the offense better and the team more fundamental overall, but this is far from a complete team as is and it’s not really going to provide any opportunity to add any other significant piece.

It’s a safe move by the Hawks who apparently don’t have any other options and are scared to lose Joe Johnson and what that might mean since they also can’t seemingly replace him.

GT Alum

June 30th, 2010
4:33 pm

I know you say Joe can’t get that kind of money by just going to another team as a FA, but he can get that contract if the Hawks to sign and trade him, right? If he honestly thinks another team would provide him a better situation, wouldn’t he likely push the Hawks for a sign and trade?

Eric B

June 30th, 2010
4:34 pm

You don’t want to give a soft Joe Johnson, the man who disappears in the playoffs, that kind of money. Let him walk. Go out and get somebody else. Joe Johnson is not a max money player.

Lowcountry Bulldawg

June 30th, 2010
4:34 pm

If he resigns you will have about 4 years of production, 1 season of decline and then the last season where he becomes valuable as a trade chip because of his expiring contract.

Do you really want 4 more years of Joe?

I am in the opinion, let him go and package Josh Smith and pieces for Carmello. Thats a legitimate superstar who would put butts in Phillips Arena.

colorado bulldog

June 30th, 2010
4:35 pm

Aaron

June 30th, 2010
4:35 pm

MC, the Hawks almost certainly would have to go into the luxury tax to use either of those exceptions…

Steve

June 30th, 2010
4:35 pm

I still say barring injury, the next 3 years are our best shot to bring a championship to ATL. The Lakers probably have 2 more runs in them based on age. Orlando will remain solid with Howard, probably our biggest rival, but they have a 21 mill. albatross in Vince Carter (not aging well) and they other guy they overpaid a couple of years back. I say we could end up the 4th best team in the League next yr., and depending on who we get big inside maybe 2nd or 3rd. Now is our time – Smith, Williams, Horford, and possibly Teague are still improving.

[...] Beat writer Michael Cunningham is reporting that the Hawks plan on offering Joe Johnson a six-year max deal (around $120 million). Good move or [...]

dap01

June 30th, 2010
4:37 pm

Why not give him a contract offer that is $15 million more than the next highest bidder? That would be $15 million more guaranteed? Why go for the whole $27 million jump?

I hope he has his PR machine ready for the fans of the Hawks. He needs a little image work. Just drop the surly stuff.

Steve

June 30th, 2010
4:38 pm

I know Johnson is not a max guy, but looking at our other choices, this looks like the best choice to me. If he goes in the tank with no heart, we are in trouble (think Jon Koncak).

allan in texas

June 30th, 2010
4:39 pm

I will still be a Hawks fan regardless. Let’s goHawks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Kraig

June 30th, 2010
4:39 pm

MC- if the Hawks do indeed resign Joe, what other free agents do you see them attempting to sign in order to bolster the roster?

Astro Joe

June 30th, 2010
4:40 pm

This is the right move for the franchise. Not because you want to keep him for 6 years but because it will be very hard to get equal value back for Joe in a S&T if you can only bring back about $8M in salary. So you bring him back and allow Drew to optimize his value in ths new pentangle offense. If you want to move Joe, do so in the summer of 2011 when you can get back something closer to a $15M player(s) in return. A max contract is NOT a lifetime employment agreement. It’s securing a valuable asset and it makes all the sense in the world for the ASG to make a decisive move to keep Joe. From an ownership group that rarely shows this level of conviction, I welcome the news. This puts the ball in Joe’s court… much like the ASG did with Kolvy last season.

BigTimeTECHFan

June 30th, 2010
4:40 pm

If ATL offers max contract, how much less can Miami or Orlando offer that will allow JJ to make the same money with no state income taxes?

Bertie

June 30th, 2010
4:40 pm

Big mistake re-signing JJ. His production will be replaced mostly from our current players, mainly Hordford and Josh. JJ’s ball hogging is counterproductive and limits the growth of our young players. Plus a max contract will financially limit the team.

swatguy

June 30th, 2010
4:41 pm

I believe if the Hawks do a S&T, we can recieve a:30% of the cap, b:Salary in return (first year only), or c: salary/money back of that 30% or the 6th year salary. If I’m correct, I advise Sund to investigate fully as to where Joe will want to play other than Atlanta.

GT Alum

June 30th, 2010
4:41 pm

HawksFan, I think you nailed it with the safe move comment. I got this feeling after the signings last offseason, and the dedication to Joe has reinforced it. The Hawks are “playing it safe.” I don’t know so much that they’re cheap. If they’re that cheap, I don’t think we’d have acquired Crawford or signed Smoove and Marvin to the contracts that they did, and they’d be agreeing with everyone who says JJ isn’t a max player. This is an organization that, after the JJ trade, seems to have become very risk-adverse.

Truth-Serum

June 30th, 2010
4:42 pm

Cant say I hate joe.for looking out for his best interest. I dont think thats going to leave room for adding a true center. That means we are stuck in mediocrity for a while to come.

Good insight Cunningham!

JMar

June 30th, 2010
4:42 pm

Six more years of mediocrity. NICE.

Remarkable

June 30th, 2010
4:44 pm

MC, I think all of us hope this is the right move and are afraid it’s not. We know that Joe is better than nothing and the way Free Agency is set up, we don’t have any gurantees. Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t. Thanks for the hope that, “he could be a very tradeable asset in the future; his contract wouldn’t necessarily become an albatross.”

Truth-Serum

June 30th, 2010
4:44 pm

Adair

June 30th, 2010
4:25 pm

“Say goodbye to the conference finals for the next 6 years”

We never said hello!

Paddy

June 30th, 2010
4:45 pm

I know I am not alone in this. A max offer to a player who won’t get them any better than they are today. And a player the fans don’t want but the ASG thinks is a great idea. No Toto, we are not in Kansas any more.

Steve…he already went in the tank. The writing is on the wall. This is a monster bad move. A six year hole that the ASG thinks the way out is to keep digging!

The Ayatollah

June 30th, 2010
4:45 pm

If this goes down (Joe signs a max contract to stay with us) then the circle is complete.

The Hawks went “all in” with Joe when they first acquired him, giving away two first round picks and a talented role player to boot (not that Diaw wanted to stay here, but the picks hurt like hell).

Then, they sought to build around him by drafting mostly subpar role players with high lottery picks, instead of adding star talent/power to the roster. Yet here we are a couple/few years later talking about needing another star player next to Joe. Some of the same clowns who said Marvin and Shelden were good picks and explainable ones, are the same ones crying for an additional superstar. Others cry that we should unequivocally support an organization that has done this to itself. Hawks made their bed, time to lie down next to the bed partner you paid for, or wake up to a cheaper one.

ray

June 30th, 2010
4:45 pm

Boy, this is really disturbing news. It’s nearly as disturbing as last year, when ASG made it a priority to re-sign Marv (why) and Bibby (maybe they needed to do that, but surely they paid too much).

The fans have turned against Joe, so ASG would not face a fan backlash for not keeping him. Plus, they could save big bucks, which is always an ASG priority.

These guys are really clueless.

REALLY??

June 30th, 2010
4:45 pm

$119 million for Joe Johnson????? This is why ATL teams dont win rings!!! $119 for Joe is just plain stupid!!

cdog

June 30th, 2010
4:46 pm

RICK SUND, I HAVE DOUBTED YOU AS A GM.ALL THAT WILL BE PUT TO REST IF YOU CAN SOMEHOW FIND A WAY TO TRADE JOE JOHNSON TO THE DENVER NUGGETS FOR CARMELO ANTHONY.THE NUGGETS IS LOOKING TO TRADE HIM.CARMELO WOULD SOLVE ALL OF OUR PLAYOFF PROBLEMS.ACCORDING TO YAHOO, DENVER IS LOOKING TO TRADE HIM.FIND A WAY TO GET HIM TO ATLANTA MY MAN AND I WILL NEVER DOUBT YOU AGAIN.

bigdave

June 30th, 2010
4:46 pm

Big Ray..

now Joe has the ball.. ASG did what they said they would do.. im pleased.. lets see where Joe’s heart is..

HawkHigh

June 30th, 2010
4:46 pm

Wasn’t it Michael Gearon Jr. who did an interview stating how the ASG wanted to avoid “bad” contracts a few weeks ago. Now we are here offering Joe Johnson the guy who has disappeared every playoff that we have been apart of for the past three years the SAME potential contract as LEBRON JAMES. You have to be kidding me. This makes me cry inside because I am a true die hard Hawks fan. Even if I said “I wont be a Hawks fan if they resign Joe to the max” I know Id be lying. So I have to deal with this abomination of an ownership group, and if Rick Sund supports this he just lost alot of respect in my book.

Michael Cunningham

June 30th, 2010
4:47 pm

@ Aaron: yes, good point, that’s possible. tough to say until the numbers are crunched . . . tax was $70 this year, Hawks have roughly $65 committed for 2010-11 if J.J. signs max. tax will come down a bit. remember they can use part of the exceptions, too.

Paddy

June 30th, 2010
4:47 pm

Hawks fan….how can this be a safe move at 120 mil. This is crazy talk.

mykhalc

June 30th, 2010
4:48 pm

i wanna REAL damn leader for max money…PERIOD!!!

GT Alum

June 30th, 2010
4:48 pm

Steve, the problem is, if we re-sign Joe, we will have to go into the luxury tax to get a big man in the next few years without trading one of our key rotational players (no one will trade us a solid big man for Marvin, ZaZa and/or Bibby), and a lot of us doubt ASG’s willingness to do so.

Also, Marvin’s rate of progress is a snail’s pace right now. Maybe the new offense opens things up for him, but, if you see a title in the next few years, you’re taking a much more optimistic view of this team than most people are.

Navigator

June 30th, 2010
4:49 pm

Why would anyone do that, with only a top 30 players? For the Hawks sake, I hope he takes the NY offer.

HawkHigh

June 30th, 2010
4:49 pm

I thought we had something going when we got rid of the most stubborn and block headed coach in all of sports. Only to turn around and hire his assistant which also happened to be the cheapest possibly option (go-figure) available and claim that its “about a change of voice” Larry Drew has the pulse of the team. Why do I love this team so much? Someone please put me out of my misery.

Joe's place Joe speaking

June 30th, 2010
4:49 pm

And what the heck is going on with the summer league roster???!!! Are we only playing with 5 players?? What is the roster?????

ATLByrdsFan

June 30th, 2010
4:51 pm

Please don’t give JJ max$$. The only way i would agree is if he turns into wade, bron-bron, captain jack, gerald wallace, or someone like that… It doesn’t mean that all of these players are on the same level, but they do have something in common… They all go to the basket with reckless abandonment and get fouls when their team needs it. In other words, he lacks the KILLER instinct. Taking over the game doesn’t mean shoot all the shots.

When we need to score but are missing shots, he continues to shoot jumpers. If he does drive, he doesn’t get the call because he rarely drives. You have to think about it like this… Jordan was a master of steals…Let’s be a little more recent…Rondo is a master of steals. He got the most this year but I guarantee that he fouled them 75% of the time. He doesn’t get the foul called since he always does it… Do you see the light…!?

If he can’t be that type of player for us, go somewhere else. Our leader needs to be that type of player, especially if that leader is a backcourt player!