Does Joe Johnson want to share? Does he want to win?

Might this be Joe's response to the concept of sharing? (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Might this be Joe's response to the concept of sharing? (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Larry Drew wants Joe Johnson to remain a Hawk and share the ball. At issue now:

1. Was iso-Joe the plan, or did it reflect the absence of a plan? It was tough to tell if isolations became the Hawks’ default mechanism by design or … well, default. Was the offense designed that way from Day 1 of Johnson’s first season (2005-2006) as a Hawk, or was it just Mike Woodson’s convenient way of getting the ball in his best player’s hands with the game on the line? And will Drew, who is known as a more sophisticated offensive coach than his predecessor, be able to implement a system that gives Joe the big shots but not all the dribbles?

2. Will Johnson want to remain a Hawk if he’s no longer THE Hawk? Johnson wasn’t a selfish player at Arkansas or with Phoenix. (Indeed, he was the Suns’ fourth option.) He didn’t seem selfish as a Hawk until this season, when it became apparent he and Jamal Crawford didn’t mesh quite the way he and Mike Bibby had. A lot of teams are going to throw money at Joe come July. Would he choose to remain with the one club that has come out and said, “We want you to share the ball”?

3. If Joe Johnson shares the ball, is he still Joe Johnson? Drew hinted at it Monday: Nobody else in the NBA — not LeBron, not Kobe, not D-Wade — plays quite the way Joe does. Even those who are bigger stars aren’t dribble-dribble-dribble guys. If you’re looking for an antecedent, you might have to go back all the way to Oscar Robertson. And if Johnson isn’t dribbling and backing a man down, what should he be doing? Standing on the perimeter awaiting a kickout pass? Posting himself low and overmatching smaller defenders?

4. If Joe Johnson is no longer taking all the big shots, is he still worth max money? The short answer: Probably, because he’ll get his money elsewhere if he doesn’t here. But it does seem odd that a sales pitch would be worded thusly: “Joe, we want you to stick around, but we want you to change.”

5. How much does Joe Johnson want to win? Here’s the key question. He’s already a rich man, and he’s about to become a richer one. Does he want to retire with a bunch of points and a huge financial portfolio, or does he want to re-invent himself as Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen have? Each of them was what Johnson is — a great player/main man who could never sniff a title. They changed because they cared more about winning. We’re about to learn what motivates Joe Johnson.

106 comments Add your comment

Larvell "SugarBear" Blanks

June 16th, 2010
12:50 pm

First,

MB my hunch tells me that JJ takes the money and runs!

Mark Bradley

June 16th, 2010
12:52 pm

Actually, I think he’ll stay, SugarBear.

Sherewshevsky

June 16th, 2010
12:57 pm

Re: your 3rd point: JJ is more than capable of playing like Paul Pierce.

Rich

June 16th, 2010
1:00 pm

My take: it’s all about Joe. I’ll help him pack.

Ryder

June 16th, 2010
1:01 pm

I don’t think that Johnson truly believes he can win in Atlanta. I think the beating they’ve taken the past two years has shown that even with JJ the Hawks aren’t big enough to challenge for the title, no matter how much run-and-gun Coach Drew wants to implement into the offense.

Also, there’s one more reason JJ isn’t worth signing for max money: He simply isn’t tough enough to lead a team to victory when the calendar turns to May. When a guy like Kobe Bryant or Lebron isn’t able to hit their shots, the first thing they do is get their teammates involved.

People can say it was Woodson’s offense that prevented a lot of ball movement, but JJ couldn’t try to dicate a better flow when the offense became stagnant?

Besides, even if JJ stays here, Atlanta will still need another player who can help Horford in the paint.

dap01

June 16th, 2010
1:07 pm

Joe left Pheonix because he wanted to be the man. No one knows what motivates Joe. He is a great player. I hope he stays but I think that he leaves.

If he goes somewhere else, he still will not be allowed to dribble, dribble shoot.

I think that Joe suffered because of Woody’s lack of offense.

Doug

June 16th, 2010
1:11 pm

I know my take is in the minority but I think JJ is one of the most overrated players in the league. Why?? Because he is a high volume-low percentage shooter…in other words he has to have the ball in his hands and shoot often to approach decent FG% numbers. He is not a good draw-kick player because he is sooo inconsistent as a standstill shooter. He appears entrenched in his ways and will probably make max money from somebody…remember this is the league that gave Eddie Curry a multi year wealth creating deal. The Hawks would be foolish to give him max money as he will assurendly head farhter south over the next several years. Best scenario: sign and trade

Barry

June 16th, 2010
1:12 pm

Short of the Hawks signing DWade or Lebron, I hope Joe stays. I think he would thrive in an offense that moves the ball all the time. To Sherewshevsky’s point, Paul Pierce is the perfect example of what Joe could become. I can’t stand Pierce, but he’s a killer. I think Joe could be a very similar player to Pierce. I sure hope he stays.

show me state

June 16th, 2010
1:16 pm

We need joe back……..

O'Brien

June 16th, 2010
1:16 pm

Even without all the extra dribble dribble, JJ would still be our #1 option. He can still get his 20 pts, 5 rebounds and 5 assists per game, and he can still defend his position well. So I would love to have him back.

And if he goes to Chicago, Miami or Cleveland, I don’t think he will be allowed to dribble dribble like he did here anyway. So I think he is okay with that. His 2 goals are to win, and to get paid.

But at what cost? That’s the tough part. Can we afford to pay him max money (5 years, $95 mil, or 6 years, $115 mil)? I don’t think so. If he will take 5 years, $80 mil? I’d sign him quick, fast and in a hurry.

Matty Ice

June 16th, 2010
1:18 pm

this is why I hate basketball moreso than football. Players have too much freedom to move – the NFL has it about right. You can control a player as long as you are willing to pay the player market value…Hawks go from “top 8″ team in NBA w/ Joe to probably down to “middle-of-the-pack” without him.

Franchise players are so few and you cannot really build a team w/o a franchise player. In the NFL, if you have a talented GM/Scouts, you can build a good team in 3-5 years and get to the SuperBowl. In the NBA, unless/until you get a “top 5″ player, you have no chance at an NBA title.

Ready for Football season to start. Sign JJ….you have no choice.

SOUTH GA DAWG FAN

June 16th, 2010
1:19 pm

You are predicting that Joe stays Mark ?
should I be looking to buy a collectible Joe Johnson miami heat jersey early before everybody else does ?
just joking I know you are one of the best prognosticators in history.

Meat and Three

June 16th, 2010
1:22 pm

Why not let Joe go, and then sign Bosh and let Jamal crawford start?

Khao$

June 16th, 2010
1:23 pm

I think Joe is long gone. I believe that after the “Summit” Joe will end up playing next to Wade, Lebron, or Bosh. Joe knows he’s going to get paid and no one can pay him more than the Hawks. However, Pierce, Allen, and Garnett proved that if superstars can put their egos to the side for the betterment of the team, you can win championships. Granted. Pierce was already in Boston ad Allen and Garnett were acquired by trade. Nevertheless, they still had to reach an agreement to play together. I believe the “Summit” is looking at Boston as the model. Only this time, they dictate where they will go, not a GM by trade.

Joe is long gone. And although some would love to show him the door out, the broke ASG will only have 8 million under the cap and aren’t willing to spend into the luxury tax. Therefore, it is sign Joe or bust. I hate to say this, but I don’t know of a 20ppg player in the league that will sign for the mid-level exemption.

wxwax

June 16th, 2010
1:25 pm

Sounds like Larry Drew wants to implement a motion offense. That could give everyone lots of touches in good positions.

Players seem to like a motion offense because it makes their stats look nice and shiny. So if Johnson stays I don’t think the offense will bog down around him the way it did under Woodson.

UGASlobberknocker

June 16th, 2010
1:26 pm

The thing I dont like about Johnson is that he absolutely disappears for long stretches, 1 1/2 or two quarters. Then all of a sudden you cant get the ball out of his hands. He is too inconsistent to be the topdog or the stud who carries you to a championship.

That said, he will get his money somewhere, so the need to sign him unless he doesnt buy into the “less Joe is more”philosophy..then we need to drop him like a hot rock.

DP

June 16th, 2010
1:27 pm

“If Joe Johnson is no longer taking all the big shots, is he still worth max money? The short answer: Probably, because he’ll get his money elsewhere if he doesn’t here.”

Mark, that’s not an adequate answer unless you subscribe to the greater fool theory. The fact that somebody else will pay him doesn’t determine what he’s worth to the Hawks. If he insists on dominating the ball with the Hawks but is willing to play second banana to LeBron or D-Wade, he’s worth more elsewhere.

The fact is that Joe Johnson is not an A-level superstar with Kobe, LeBron, D-Wade, Dwight Howard, etc. If he wants to win a championship (and given that he forced his way off a great Phoenix team to a terrible Atlanta team I’m not sure it’s that big a priority for him), he must either play as one guy on a balanced team with no superstars (like the 2004 Pistons) or as the second banana to a real superstar.

Reggie

June 16th, 2010
1:27 pm

Mark

It seems like pople have forgetten about what Joe Johnson was with the Suns. Johnson was very effictive with the Suns with Steve Nash & Amare Stoudemire & was one of the top three point shooters in the league in terms of 3 point field goal perecentage. If he truely wants to win, then it would make alot of sense to stay here with the Hawks.

kent

June 16th, 2010
1:28 pm

how many times are you going to write the same article?

UGASlobberknocker

June 16th, 2010
1:29 pm

If Drew can get any Hawk in motion..heck to get any Hawk to even move at all in a half court set..then he may be coach of the year.

UGA Slobber-Justshutupper-Knocker

June 16th, 2010
1:30 pm

Kent,how many times are you gonna bitch about the articles?

wxwax

June 16th, 2010
1:32 pm

Slobberknocker, the Hawks are a very athletic team.

The motion is perfect for these guys. it would keep Josh Smith near the post, it would allow Johnson and Crawford to get open shots in the flow and it plays to Horford’s strength as a undersize but mobile center. And, of course, it could allow Teague to shine.

UGA Slobberknocker

June 16th, 2010
1:33 pm

All of this Hawks talk brings this question to mind…When do the Falcons report?

UGA Slobberknocker

June 16th, 2010
1:34 pm

I know the Hawks are athletic..it is that inability to demonstrate it that bothers me.

Astro Joe

June 16th, 2010
1:34 pm

If Joe is talking about playing with LeBron, Wade and other elite players, then he obviously isn’t married to the idea of drible, dribble, dribble shoot. At the same time, let’s not ignore that the Hawks had one of the best regular season offenses in the conference by just about every statistic. If we were so iso-Joe based, then how did Jamal become SMOY and Horfrod an All-Star? How did Josh have his most efficient season in his career? Why did they rank in the top 5 in fast break points? The playoffs were awful, no doubt, but this assumption that he Hawks have somehow guaranteed themselves a playoff slot with/without Joe is wrong. Yes, Joe can adapt to a different style, average 5+ assists and be a better teammate. And if he isn’t here next season, performing better in the playoffs will be the least of this team’s concerns.

Captain Lou Albano

June 16th, 2010
1:35 pm

First Joe Johnson is not a clutch player. He’s fairly consistent though. I say we go after Chris Bosh.

Stockdog

June 16th, 2010
1:35 pm

SugarBear if Joe takes the money then he stays, the Hawks can offer him more than any other team. Only way would be with a sign and trade, that scenario is highly unlikely. I think Joe shares and stays. I like what I hear from Larry Drew. As for Joe not being a top 5 nor top 10 player is ok, because the Hawks have more talent 1-8 than all but 5 teams. I say Joe stays and the Hawks continue to improve. I don’t think that this team has reached its ceiling yet.

Astro Joe

June 16th, 2010
1:41 pm

I’d also suggest re-looking at some quotes from Joe made in a previous season when he talked about ‘not getting the ball back”. We don;t know enough about how plays were supposed to run to understand how many times other teammates may have broken plays off and shot an ill-advised shot. Does that give joe the right to go iso? Of course not. But if Drew is bringing a new level of accountability and ball movement to the team, then maybe Joe won’t have as many concerns about how plays are executed. At the end of the day, you still want the player with the best ability to score the ball to take the most shots… even if that means he’s only shooting 2-3 more times than the other guy. In Drew’s new innovative, one-of-a-kind-never-seen-before offense, someone has to take the most shots and I most definitely vote for Joe to have that burden.

Bozo the Clown

June 16th, 2010
1:41 pm

Hey Mark,

Isn’t it about time for a blog about how BP is saving those people affected by the gulf oil spill b/c they’re setting up a disaster fund? Similar to your “Texas saves college football” blog.

Reid Adair

June 16th, 2010
1:57 pm

Very interesting questions, Mark.

1. I’m not sure on this one. Either way, what it would accomplish peaked in 2008-09, and it was clear Joe Johnson didn’t like the changes in 2009-10.

2. I doubt it. Even if he did, I personally don’t want him around. Say what you want, but his playoff comments about the fans were bad. He had problems with Jamal Crawford, as you stated. If Jeff Teague starts taking minutes from Mike Bibby, how is Johnson going to work with Teague?

3. His Phoenix situation was different. Given what has transpired since he arrived in Atlanta, I say no.

4. I don’t believe he’s worth max money even if he is THE Hawk. All of that talk about a free-agent “summit” with Johnson, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Amare Stoudemire. Can you guess which one is not like the others? It’s easy. Johnson.

5. I can’t speak for whether he wants to win or not. That’s a lot like #1.

SWAT Native

June 16th, 2010
1:57 pm

Ryder,

You said that you don’t think that Joe believes that he can win in Atlanta. I would tell him that he would have a better shot if he would play up to his level consistently in the playoffs.

Just-A-Thought

June 16th, 2010
1:57 pm

So IF Joe resigns (which I don’t think is going to happen…..), like someone mentioned earlier, which other player is going to come help this team out?…………..This team the way it is now, including Joe, really needs a 17 to 20 ppg low post player, not a every once in a while or once a week, but a legit 17 to 20 ppg LPP. And no Amare is NOT coming to play for the Hawks……….

GT Alum

June 16th, 2010
1:58 pm

To points number 2 and 3, I don’t think anyone is asking Joe to take a back seat. We just want him to share the front seat. I would imagine him doing some posting up, considering he’s a big guard. I wouldn’t see him standing around on the perimeter waiting for a kick out as much as I see him running off of screens and moving without the ball to get open shots. Taking a defender one-on-one isn’t the only way to use your athleticism to get a shot.

All that said, I also don’t expect iso-Joe to completely go away if he stays. He’s a good player who has the ability to create his own shot. I do expect to see less iso-Joe, for the offense not to get bogged down in it. I also expect Joe to either back out of it and re-try, or to pass out of it and try to set up a shot a different way rather than forcing a shot.

If Joe stays, we still need him to be THE Hawk. He just can’t be THE ONLY Hawk.

Joey

June 16th, 2010
2:00 pm

Just-A-Thought

June 16th, 2010
2:04 pm

From an offensive stand point Josh and Horford are very limited, neither are very polished on offense, so on a nightly bases you never know what you are going to get from either guy offensively. So WHO OH WHO………….

Westurd

June 16th, 2010
2:06 pm

Mark,

You said it all in your last line…..,”We’re about to learn what motivates Joe Johnson.”

JDK

June 16th, 2010
2:06 pm

Mark – WHY do you think he’ll stay?

GT Alum

June 16th, 2010
2:07 pm

Astro Joe, to your point about Joe complaining he never got the ball back, I have to wonder if some of that is because the other guys got their hands on the ball so rarely that when they did, they didn’t want to give it back because they didn’t know when they’d get it next.

Also, a few years ago, the Hawks were a very young team. Joe needed to realize that these guys were not going to execute perfectly. Rather than retreating into iso-Joe, he needed to help coach these guys into staying in the offense and playing a team game.

Which brings me to a question MB didn’t ask – can Joe be a leader? This team needs a veteran voice to support what the coach is saying and to be a leader on the floor. I think Bibby took that role somewhat when he first joined the team, but his struggles seemed to interfere with that last season, and, with his role diminishing, he’s probably not the best guy to take that role. Joe has the experience to take on that role, and, especially if he’s willing to sacrifice iso-Joe for the team, I think the other players will listen to him. Does he have the maturity to take on that role? His reaction to the fans booing raises serious questions in that regard. Is he willing to take on that role?

Hubie Brown

June 16th, 2010
2:15 pm

The Hawks could bring everyone back, including Joe, and they must dedicate to being a more defensive club, starting with a freaking-shot blocking center similar to the “Tree”. If we do that and share the ball offensively, get ready for the finals boys.

layinlow

June 16th, 2010
2:16 pm

I want Joe back but not at max money. This guy is definently a notch below wade and lebron. So does he deserve the same money? no. If he can find a team that is willing to give him the max deal then the Hawks can do a sign and trade so he can get the 6 year deal. Joe is around 29 so I don’t believe he will be able to perform at a high enough level over 6 years to deserve max money.

Mystikal

June 16th, 2010
2:20 pm

I don’t think Joe is a selfish guy. Not so long ago we all wanted the ball in Joe’s hands because he’s the best scorer/playmaker/etc.. This season with teams more than ready for the “Iso-Joe,” along with the way the season ended, it is a big deal now. What was the other option though? Bibby was nice the past 2 yrs but this season he regressed to the point where he was a liability. We all get caught up in Josh Smith’s highlights and what he does on defense, but realistically he is far from ready to be a goto guy offensively. Jamal Crawford can get his own shot and occasionally others, but he can only make that happen in small spurts. Al

Grandad

June 16th, 2010
2:21 pm

Mark; I’m actually sorry that you must put up with
some of the inane comments I’ve heard today.
Such as:
1. let Joe go & *sign Bosh (well prepared reader)*not possible
2. whining about your article
3. JJ, overrated, high-vlume, low % – What???

Mark:
You’re an intelligent B-ball guy.
*(Kentucky)*
Now – Joe is a very, very good & well rounded player.
He is [just] NOT explosive, as is D.Wade, LbJ, Kobe, et al.
As AJ said he may still leave to be a 2nd bananna/sidekick for:
fill in the blank _________ _________ elsewhere.

My take is he just fell into a trap of being in *Woodson’s [lack of]
system. Thus becoming Iso-Joe.
If LD does a nice job of selling him on his “program”,
my feeling is Joe will buy in.
With Joe & the pos. return of Childress – intuitive drafting,
a savvy FA signing & LD is set up for success in his inaugural
coaching season.
I’m hoping there was no personal animosity between he and Jamal.

Billy

June 16th, 2010
2:23 pm

Have the Falcons signed Weatherspoon yet? Sorry, wrong column. As for Joe, something tells me he takes the $$$ and stays. No particular reason for saying that, just my gut feeling.

Mystikal

June 16th, 2010
2:24 pm

Horford I believe has the skills to be featured offensively, if we actually ran an offense. And it would help if he weren’t being overmatched at center so often but that’ another story.

Point being that JJ doesn’t truly believe his team is good enough. He believes he is there best shot. There is some truth in that but we know even that isn’t good enough. With some better direction and everyone being held accountable we could be better, perhaps. We’ll see if Drew is up to the task.

Another GM

June 16th, 2010
2:25 pm

I believe Joe would like to return to the Hawks but he is not sure if mgt and ownership are willing to bring in the players to go any farther and that is my concern too. If I was Joe I would be asking the question of what are you going to do to improve the team in the offseason. If history of the past is any indication he will move on.

Another GM

June 16th, 2010
2:26 pm

Those players that the Hawks need to bring are role players and not Bosch and Wade, etc.

feudfinder

June 16th, 2010
2:26 pm

Why does everybody think Joe was holding on to ball too long and purposely? That was the play that was designed for him. Don’t blame Joe. Blame the ex-coach.

YellerSkeeters are PeterEaters!

June 16th, 2010
2:27 pm

Pookadoprelanderschitzel

June 16th, 2010
2:30 pm

Isn’t Jamal Crawford pretty much as good as Joe Johnson? And, didn’t we get him for Speedy, Acie and a pack of gum?

GT Alum

June 16th, 2010
2:31 pm

For all the folks who want to get Bosh for us to have a real big man, he’s 6-10. The same height as Horford, and an inch taller than Smooth and Marvin. He’s another forward. If we could sign him instead of Joe, we’d have 3 starting PFs. As much as I’d love to have him here, he’s not the answer for our size issues. He’s not going to help us defend Orlando and other teams with a lot of big guys.