Johnson to the Knicks? Hawks’ Joe won’t say it ain’t so

It’s old hat to LeBron James, but it’s new to Joe Johnson. When you’re a big-name player and you’re about to become a free agent, a game at Madison Square Garden means getting asked, “Would you sign with the Knicks?” Joe got the full treatment Monday, and he didn’t, you should know, say no.

The three major New York newspapers — the Times, the Post and the Daily News – all ran the obligatory “Joe-to-the-Knicks?” story. In the midst of a season in which New York’s NBA entry has won three times against the Hawks and only 19 times against the league’s other 28 teams, star-based speculation counts as big news in the Big Apple.

Times headline: “Hawks’ Johnson, free agent to be, lurks as a prize without the hype.

Post headline: “Joe: Knicks an option, if …

Daily News headline: “Atlanta Hawks’ Joe Johnson may be best shot for the Knicks.

If you have time to click on only one of the Joe links, the Daily News’ version, written by Frank Isola,  is the ticket. From Isola’s report:

Johnson stands alone in the 2010 free-agent class in that the All-Star shooting guard may be the most realistic option for the talent-starved Knicks. Johnson already has rejected a “max” deal with the Atlanta Hawks and has a good history with [Knicks coach] Mike D’Antoni. Plus Johnson’s agent, Arn Tellem, is responsible for orchestrating the trading deadline deal for Tracy McGrady that freed up additional salary-cap space for the Knicks.

Team president Donnie Walsh traded two first-round picks to Houston to finalize the deal and the feeling around the NBA is that Walsh never would have given up so many assets if he didn’t have a good indication that one of the top free agents is strongly considering New York.

“I don’t think it’s a reach to say that Arn could influence Joe’s decisions,” said a Hawks official. “There’s nothing wrong with that. But we could still offer the most money.”

“Wink-wink” deals are against NBA rules, but they are next to impossible to prove and happen all the time. That doesn’t mean the Knicks have such an agreement in place with Johnson. In fact, Johnson was clear last night that his preference is to sign with a ready-made team, which would seem to include Atlanta but not necessarily the Knicks.

From the Post’s story, written by Mark Hale:

Question is, would the All-Star guard be comfortable in a major town like New York?

He insists he would be.

“Yeah, definitely,” Johnson said last night before posting 22 points, five assists and four rebounds in the Knicks’ dramatic 99-98 win over his Hawks.

“It’s nothing but basketball. I’ve been playing this game pretty much my whole life. I could care less where I’m at.”

Johnson raved about Madison Square Garden in postgame.

“It is the Mecca of basketball,” he said. “Everybody I think really gets geared up to come and put on a good performance.”

If I’m the Hawks and I’ve just lost to the woebegone Knicks by a point, I don’t know that I want to hear about MSG-as-Mecca. Nor would I want to see this in Jonathan Abrams’ story in the Times:

“I think everybody is going to be in contention,” Johnson said. “I can’t really say just one team that I’m looking forward to playing for. I don’t know. I think it’s going to be an exciting summer, and we’ll see what happens.”

An exciting summer? Doesn’t, like, spring come first? Isn’t it possible the Hawks will play games of consequence come April and May? Might those not be “exciting”?

Ah, well. That’s the way of NBA free agency. You’re nobody unless the Knicks want you. And the Knicks apparently want Joe Johnson. But he’ll wind up staying here. Because, as the unnamed Hawks official told the Daily News, they can offer the most money.

Besides, New York is the worst possible fit for Johnson. He’s famous among teammates for his ability to sleep anytime anywhere. A guy who loves to snooze working in the city that never sleeps? It’d never work.

118 comments Add your comment

Rocky

March 9th, 2010
9:44 am

Mark Bradley

March 9th, 2010
9:45 am

Kudos, Rocky.

Ree Roe

March 9th, 2010
9:50 am

I want Joe to come back & the Hawks want him back, but if Joe leaves what do
you see the Hawks doing in free agency to replace him?

-REE Roe!!!

Wink

March 9th, 2010
9:52 am

Good bye Joe!!!! Go play for your old coach D’Antoni – you have been auditioning for this job all season. You will get to play with Tracy & maybe Bosh/LeBron??? Go be Robin, we need a Batman….

Deano

March 9th, 2010
10:01 am

Bye Joe. I’m sure we can find another shooting guard that can’t hit the big shot, that can dribble around the top of the key for 10 seconds and throw up wild shots, and that has absolutely NO FIRE whatsoever!! If you don’t want to be here we sure as hell don’t want you here.

JJ

March 9th, 2010
10:01 am

Mark,

Please explain this to me as I’m not an NBA FA afficianado. First, why can the Hawks offer more money than the Knicks, Nets, etc… if they can off a “Max Contract”? Is the Hawks “Max Contract” actually more than the rest of the league’s? And second, IF Joe does leave, will that mean that the Hawks can then also offer a “Max Contract” with the money saved on Joe’s non-contract??

JTIII

March 9th, 2010
10:04 am

The Temptations had a song entitled “Superstar”. In the lyrics it says “Superstar, remember how you got where you are.” Joe, respect your teammates and stop talking about “this summer” and “it’s the mecca of basketball”. If it were not for the Hawks giving you a REALLY chance to shine, you would not be in this position. You don’t hear Al, Josh, Bibby, or Crawford talking about other teams. They are focused, as you should be too, superstar.

Mark Bradley

March 9th, 2010
10:10 am

A max contract is the same everywhere, JJ. But a team wishing to sign Johnson would have to clear cap space to absorb such a contract, which would be, in his case, around $17 million.

TROTTINGHOME

March 9th, 2010
10:10 am

This article is an excellent example of an over saturated sports market..i;m beginning to drown here…so i quit swimming

John Kontract

March 9th, 2010
10:14 am

Let Joe walk and become one of the teams that can offer LeBron the max deal. Take LeBron off the Cavs and Ja Ja Ja Joe off the Hawks and look at the rosters. The Hawks have a MUCH better team to surround King James to win championship after championship. Just close your eyes and dream for a second….Teague, Crawford, Lebron, Smoove and Big Al. That team would win 60+ games and play for the championship every year that team is together.

Jaxhawk

March 9th, 2010
10:15 am

What or who could the hawks pursue if they lose JJ to the knicks?

Mark Bradley

March 9th, 2010
10:17 am

Just about everybody becomes a free agent this summer. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh. The Hawks could chase one of them, but I wouldn’t count on them landing a big name. Because why would a big-name player sign with a team that couldn’t keep a big-name player?

JJ

March 9th, 2010
10:18 am

That’s my other question…..are the Hawks in the same boat as other teams that can offer a Max contract IF they don’t offer Joe? I don’t ever see anyone talking about the Hawks but if they can offer Joe the max, surely they could offer LeBron the max as well?

JJ

March 9th, 2010
10:20 am

Mark,

This is The A baby. Athletes love to live and play here. Forget Joe if he doesn’t want to be here. Let’s trade up for a REAL superstar!! Hahahaha

Don

March 9th, 2010
10:20 am

Very odd. Johnson already left a contending team (Phoenix) with a pretty good window in front of them to sign with a horrible team in the early stages of rebuilding. Now that the Hawks have become a legitimate contender after years of losing, he’s apparently thinking of stepping backwards again. Does Johnson care more about winning or being the main guy on a losing team and getting plenty of shots?

SOUTH GA DAWG FAN

March 9th, 2010
10:21 am

something is missing from the Hawks is it coaching ? is it effort ? I lean toward coaching . any good coaches that you could see taking the Hawks job ? what about Avery Johnson ? if they cant beat the Cavs , the magic , or the knicks even one time something is missing .If Johnson goes there is nothing that can be done about it , I don’t know why anyone would go to the knicks except for money of course , but they do own the hawks.

drmaryb

March 9th, 2010
10:21 am

JJ is The Hawks!

We NEED him more than HE needs us! He said it BEST: This is the NBA man!

Hey JOE-The ATL loves You Man. You are building something here…You are MINE & The Hawks NEED you to Re-Sign! Your teammates love you & They play hard for You!

Mark Bradley

March 9th, 2010
10:22 am

Joe Johnson said in all the stories, Don, that he wasn’t interested in backtracking — meaning going back to a a non-contender. Which would seem to eliminate the Knicks, wouldn’t it?

JJ

March 9th, 2010
10:23 am

Don,

Just for the record, JJ didn’t leave “a contending team (Phoenix)…to sign with a horrible team…). He was TRADED. Huge difference.

Mark Bradley

March 9th, 2010
10:24 am

JJ, it was actually a sign-and-trade. Johnson was a restricted free agent.

And the Hawks did beat the Knicks once this season, South Ga. They were 1-3 against New York.

JJ

March 9th, 2010
10:26 am

Mark, Ah…my memory eludes me. Thanks for the correction. Don, apologies for the mistake. You were correct sir.

Mike Jay

March 9th, 2010
10:27 am

Gee. You spent how many years rebuilding the Hawks and the fianlly get to a place where they can compete and you want to run off to another rebuilding project in the Knicks? Carefull or will get a reputation as a player who can only excell when there are little expectaitons for greatness. The more I hear Joe’s remarks during this process the worst the taste gets in my mouth. The right thing to do would be to not discuss this during the season.

Paul H

March 9th, 2010
10:28 am

It would be nice if we could actually BEAT the lowly Knicks!

SOUTH GA DAWG FAN

March 9th, 2010
10:30 am

1-3 against the knicks not much better is it ? we are the knicks celtics (almost)

Mike Jay

March 9th, 2010
10:30 am

my comments went poof!

in summary….

I’m beging to think JJ doesn’t like the preasure of being on a contenting team. Not like his stellar playoff performance dissuades my thinking…

Mr. Phil

March 9th, 2010
10:36 am

Mark, what about the growing contingent of fans who WANT JOE GONE. Is anybody listening to us? Let’s not just assume the Hawks are fully committed to trying to resign this chump. And if they are they shouldn’t be.

El Bravo

March 9th, 2010
10:36 am

Make no mistake, Joe Johnson is our best player, however, if he walks we can move Crawford to the starting lineup. I don’t believe the dropoff would be that significant. The question becomes who do we get to come off the bench and provide instant offense…

WonderDawg

March 9th, 2010
10:37 am

Joe Johnson: “I could care less where I’m at.” Boy, that’s an statement (and attitude) you want from your team-leader. How could JJ say such a thing during a run to the playoffs? If that was not taken out of context, I hope Sund offers him nothing.

Mr. Phil

March 9th, 2010
10:38 am

Also, what do you mean “couldn’t keep a big name player”. Maybe keeping this so-called all star would be the dumbest move ever and other big names would understand.

Don

March 9th, 2010
10:38 am

Mark, I can’t figure out what Johnson is trying to accomplish with his comments. The only way the Knicks would become a contender next year with him would be if they also signed LeBron and kept David Lee. I don’t think a combination of Johnson and Bosh make them serious contenders though it would make them a playoff team in the East. Johnson and D-Wade together makes no sense because they play the same position.

I could understand Johnson’s public indifference about the Hawks a little better if they hadn’t already put a max deal on the table for him.

But no matter what he’s thinking about doing after the season, his only comment right now with regard to free agency should be “no comment”. Flirting with the Knicks shows a complete lack of professionalism and class in my opinion. He’s supposed to be the leader of the Hawks but he acts like a hired gun.

Mr. Phil

March 9th, 2010
10:40 am

Our best player. Admitedly, Johnson’s got range, moves, and can score. But what use is any of that when you can not will your team to a win on a given night. What use is it when your team needs a bucket and all you can do is dribble to the lane and toss a random flyer at the backboard. Come on people wake up. having talent and being a winner is not the same thing. Joe Johnson is no winner!

Mr. Phil

March 9th, 2010
10:42 am

Don: Good point. A lack of killer instinct, a lack of “clutchness” and zero professionalism. Where is Isiah Ryder when you need him?

Really Joe?

March 9th, 2010
10:44 am

Really Joe? The Hawks go out of their way to re-up the roster that was supposed to mesh for years to come and eventually be seasoned enough to make a championship run once they get that coveted center, and ole Joe no longer wants to be the man to take a team to prominence. It’s weird the transition these players go through, or maybe its the league. The trend, it seems, has gone from wanting to be the savior of your favorite franchise, to not caring where you play and who you play with as long as you get your $15 mil a year and 25.6 ppg, to being content with taking a $7 million a year pay cut in order to stack 4 teams in the league to vie for a championship. I was shocked to hear that players get together and talk about what they plan to do in the offseason and that would potentially effect another players decision on what he would do. Maybe its just my competitive nature, but I wouldn’t want to be second best to anybody when I thought I was capable of being the best. This is a defeatist attitude adopted by Joe Johnson in the midst of a relatively close division race. Joe basically told me, “Well, I think I’m good enough to be considered and respected on the same level as LeBron, Kobe and D-Wade, but I can’t beat them so I’ll just join them.

Man up Joe. If you’re really good enough to demand a max contract, have some pride in taking your team to the playoffs.

Rick Sund

March 9th, 2010
10:44 am

He said WHAT?!?

“I could care less where I’m at!”

Well, I’m shocked…

JJ

March 9th, 2010
10:47 am

I’m sitting on the fence here. Joe is an all-star and yet there’s just something about him that doesn’t compute as “STAR” in the league. That may not make a lot of sense, but very rarely does it seem like he just takes over games like LJ, D-Wade, Melo, Kobe, etc…

Don’t get me wrong, he tries and all. We’ve all seen the 4th qtr when he “takes over the game” and the offense becomes “iso Joe” which is not only incredibly boring but also uneffective. They stop moving the ball and usually stop scoring. Which is precisely why we’ve all witnessed the dreaded 4th qtr meltdowns and lack of offensive production.

Here’s the catch though: Who are we legitimately going to go after that is better? No is even mentioning the idea of one of the BIG names coming to Atl. So realistically, is a “non-star” all-star like Joe the best we can do? If so, I’d rather not push him out the door and settle for fighting for 6th or 7th in the east again.

If however we can legitimately make a run at a true superstar? I say c-ya Joe.

dirt

March 9th, 2010
10:52 am

let joe go bring in wade!!!!!

Lil Jay

March 9th, 2010
10:54 am

Mark, your answer to the Max Contract question was right and wrong. Every other team can only offer JJ 5yrs where the Hawks can offer 6yrs the additional year is where the most money comes in effect.
JJ, to answer your other question we can only offer the other free agents 5 years that what makes it hard to get LBJ, DWade or BOSH, and if we tried to get one of those guys we would have to do a sign and trade to get the additional year and that would include JSmoove, Big AL or Teague guaranteed.

Dr. Warren

March 9th, 2010
10:55 am

Johnson’s talk evokes another guy on his way out the door (not by choice): JIM MORA. I’m wondering if the Hawks are really better off letting him go–he’s been peaking for two years now and won’t be nearly as effective in the last 3 years of a 5-year contract. If the Hawks can’t get out of Round 2 this year, why not just do a minor rebuilding job? How else will they ever beat Orlando and whoever has LBJ? And even though they haven’t made the semis since the St. Louis days, the goal is still a championship. Ummm, right???

singndablues

March 9th, 2010
11:00 am

This is no surprise. JJ’s “dgas” attitude, lack of passion and lack of leadership is why I will be glad to see him go. He’s maxed out his game and will only decline in the future. I think Sund is planning on both JJ and Woody to exit after the season (barring an advance to the championship game – which ain’t gonna happen). The offensive style of 90% of the plays being JJ one on one has become pretty lame. A good coach would have made much more of Marvin’s talents by now. How about dwade in the atl?

Brownie

March 9th, 2010
11:03 am

Based on JJ’s comments about not back-tracking, I would be very surprised if the Knicks end up as his choice, however D’Antoni is a strong draw for him.

I’m more inclined to see him heading to the Bulls, if he doesn’t stay put in Atlanta.

The Hawks are an interesting case study, as they definitely have NOT followed SOP for building a contender – they’ve been patient with their young players and only brought in secondary FA’s. The results have been impressive with year-by-year improvement.

BUT, are they going to be capable of winning a championship?? While all of the youngsters will likely continue to improve their games, they still need a superstar talent to get them to the top…and Johnson doesn’t have the game or personality to carry that off. AND the Hawks won’t be able to afford a superstar unless they subtract an important piece – likely JJ or Josh Smith. Result: they haven’t made headway.

The reality is that JJ is a reliable, consistent player, but the more they rely on him the more the game slows to a crawl and becomes essentially “Joe and 4 guys standing on the perimeter”.

I look at Josh, Horford, Crawford and eventually Teague, and I see greyhounds, not stand-around half-court type players.

If JJ stays, the only way I see Atlanta winning a championship is for Josh Smith to reach his true potential, meaning bringing in a real center to move Horford to PF and sliding Josh into the SF slot. He’ll HAVE to improve his outside shot, ball handling and decision-making to accomplish this. We see signs of it, but I really think he’s operating at only about 50% of his top end.

Which brings us to the coaching….I understand the Hawks rewarding Woody for steady improvement (especially on the defensive side of the ball), but does anyone really think he’s a championship caliber head coach? The ASG will have to find the courage to make that tough decision to bring in a guy who can make the difference, particularly in bringing out the best in Smith.

JJ

March 9th, 2010
11:03 am

Thanks, Lil Jay.

So by that same scenario, Cleveland has the best chance to keep LJ and can offer 6 years over NY’s 5, correct? Same for Miami with Wade and Toronto with Bosh? So, in reality, the Hawks could offer Wade or LJ the same amount of money that the Knicks could, but less than Clev (for LJ) or Mia (for Wade)? Assuming of course that Joe isn’t on the team.

MannyT

March 9th, 2010
11:03 am

MB,

Don’t flip yourself the Bird rights!

While max is max, your Bird rights team can offer you bigger raises than another team. While it may not sway Joe, the Hawks can offer hims $405,615 more per season than any other team. They can also offer an extra (6th) year. That is the real kicker because it gets you to that supersized salary at the end. Note that all the biggest salaries in the NBA are usually the last year or two of a max deal.

A Hawks MAX deal is 6 years/99,375,675.

Any other team’s MAX deal is 5 years/86,314,872

That is why Joe could look at 4 yrs/60 mil and say, I’ll play this out.

…and for all your swap MAX Joe Johnson for MAX (enter name here) the cap rules work against us. We would have to replace Joe with someone that makes like Marvin Williams money. :lol: I can hear LeBron’s agent calling Sund every day :roll:

It’s not what you make, it’s how much more you can make!

coachx

March 9th, 2010
11:05 am

Lil Jay,
Your still wrong.

We cannot offer any other team’s free agent more then the mid level exception of around $5.5 mill per year since we are over the salary cap. We cannot offer a 5 year max deal to any other team’s free agents b/c we are over the cap. The only teams under the cap who can sign a max guy from another team are: Knicks, Bulls, Heat, Wizards, Kings, Clippers.

Teams over the salary cap (like the Hawks) can only offer THEIR OWN FREE AGENTS contracts (without using the mid level or veterans minimum exceptions). Those exceptions are just enought to sign role players. We are the only team who can offer JJ that 6th year in the contract and we can offer slightly higher raises, per year, to JJ then other teams.

So its basically sign Joe Johnson or bust.

I wish the AJC could find some sports writers that can comprehend how this stuff works. Its really not that hard.

dap01

March 9th, 2010
11:07 am

Joe is a huge part of the Hawks, but if he wants to go the the Knicks, let him go.

Good bye!

JJ

March 9th, 2010
11:12 am

Sign Joe or bust? Ouch….not much in the way of flexibility.

I MUS WRITE

March 9th, 2010
11:14 am

Joe Johnson is going to the Chicago Bulls…..Throw the money at Wade

Blue Kid

March 9th, 2010
11:17 am

… from hoopsworld.com

2010 Free Agents. If Joe leaves, we have other options.

Joe Johnson
Ray Allen
Manu Ginobili
Marcus Camby
Tracey McGrady
Shaquille O’Neal
Brad Miller
Stephen Jackson
Jermaine O’Neal
Mike Miller
Rip Hamilton
Yao Ming (owed 17.7 million in 10/11)
Amare Stoudamire (owed 17.7 million in 10/11)
LeBron James (owed 17.2 million in 10/11)
Dwayne Wade (owed 17.0 million in 10/11)
Chris Bosh (owed 17.1 million in 10/11)
Dirk Nowitzki (owed $21.5 million in 10/11)
Josh Howard (owed $11.8 million in 10/11)
Mike Redd (owed $18.3 million in 10/11)
Tyson Chandler (owed $12.8 million in 10/11)
Ben Wallace
Larry Hughes
Zydrunas Ilgauskas (option to opt-out after 09/10 season)
Anderson Varejao (option to opt-out after 09/10 season)
Al Harrington
Darko Milicic
Udonis Haslem
Jamal Crawford (option to opt-out after 09/10 season)
Eddy Curry (option to opt-out after 09/10 season)
Amir Johnson
Derek Fisher
Raja Bell
T.J. Ford (player option – owed $8.5 million in 10/11)
Travis Outlaw
Bruce Bowen
Earl Watson
Luke Ridnour
Matt Harpring
Quentin Richardson
Damien Wilkins

VenomSpitter

March 9th, 2010
11:18 am

let joe walk. ballhoggin loser

Mr. Obvious

March 9th, 2010
11:31 am

ATLANTA SPIRIT GROUP: The “Clayton County School System” of Professional Sports Ownership

(FYI: That AIN’T a compliment.)

Notso Fast

March 9th, 2010
11:39 am

Wink said it best. We need a Batman not a Robin. He is a good Robin but can’t fills the shoes of a Batman.