Does anybody in Atlanta actually want Joe Johnson to stay?

And this gentleman, oddly enough, is a Hawks' fan. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

And this gentleman, oddly enough, is a Hawks' fan. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

The city of Cleveland, such as it is, is pleading with LeBron James to stay. My question today: Is anybody in Atlanta doing the same with Joe Johnson?

It’s a strange dynamic, J-J-J-Joe and the A-T-L. Fans have ripped him for shooting too much and for not being LeBron or Kobe. He ripped Hawks fans after Game 3 of the Orlando series. And now, with free agency set to commence, I ask: Do you folks really want Johnson to re-up?

I’ve made the argument before, but here it is again: If Johnson leaves, the Hawks will get a lot worse in a hurry. He might not be LeBron or Kobe, but he’s one of the NBA’s 15 best players. Unless you believe the Hawks will then land one of the 14 or so greater talents — and Jordan Crawford, the 27th selection in the 2010 draft, isn’t such a talent — the team can say goodbye to winning 50 games and probably to reaching Round 2 of the playoffs.

The Hawks surely realize as much. I’m not sure their constituency shares that belief. My reading of Hawks fans is that they — meaning the majority, perhaps the vast majority — don’t think Johnson is worth max money and should therefore hit the road. The trouble with this scenario is that I’m not certain the Atlanta Spirit would spend much money or effort to replace him. (Yes, I’m still stuck on the Larry Drew hire.)

But I’m occasionally wrong when it comes to reading the electorate, and that’s why I’m asking: You out there — do you want Joe Johnson to stay? If not, why not? And if not, what’s Plan B?

(Speaking of which: Yahoo! Sports reports that the Dallas Mavericks would like to work a sign-and-trade for Joe Johnson. Would that work? I say … )

303 comments Add your comment

MatthewH

June 28th, 2010
9:37 am

Welcome back! And thanks for the Thrasher’s picture link in your last blog

Me

June 28th, 2010
9:37 am

nobody

June 28th, 2010
9:38 am

I think everyone will tell you it depends on many different things. He is an all star and he is talented. If he is our only option. Then Hell Yes I want him back. If we could get guys like Rudy Gay then its a maybe.

G-Money

June 28th, 2010
9:39 am

Johnson should be re-signed, and bring in some bigs who can rebound and play defense. Fans should be grateful for what he has done for this franchise.

MatthewH

June 28th, 2010
9:39 am

Will they really get a lot worse in a hurry? Joe does take too many shots. If he leaves maybe there will be more of a team idea. Crazy, I know.

F-105 Thunderchief

June 28th, 2010
9:40 am

I’d rather see big money invested in a player with both skills AND leadership. Joe seems to have one and not the other. And, he is a lesser player when the games count for more.

nobody

June 28th, 2010
9:41 am

Right on point G-money. I am not a fan of fans that let one game erase their entire memory. I know its more than a game with Joe, because he hardly shows up in the playoffs. But he has averaged over 20 points for a few years and made the all star team. People are blinded by stupidity sometimes. If there was another player with the exact same stats and wasnt named Joe Johnson everyone on this board would be begging Sund to sign him.

nobody

June 28th, 2010
9:42 am

F-105. Sounds like…..Al Horford. If we do not re-sign Joe, our first priority must be locking up Horford for a loooonnngggg time.

atlfan44

June 28th, 2010
9:43 am

well the hawks have to do something because if the heat get amare to go with wade and the bulls get lebron, depending on what the knicks do the hawks could be looking at 5th or 6th in the East and a probable first round exit every time.

nobody

June 28th, 2010
9:43 am

I have said before. Joe has said he would move to SF. If we would do that for us, I say sign him. He takes care of two problems for us. Gets rid of Marvin and then we could sign someone to play the 2 and give him a legit scorer to dump it off too. AKA Ray Allen!

Me

June 28th, 2010
9:44 am

I loved the sign that one fan had at game four of the Orlando series. “Joe, we don’t care if you show up either.” My sentiments exactly. Let him go get old and hamstring some other franchise with his max money.

VB

June 28th, 2010
9:45 am

I agree with F-105. He’s talented, but his talent doesn’t show up in the post season, plus, for the money he’ll be making he needs to be a leader; which he is clearly not!!

nobody

June 28th, 2010
9:45 am

atlfan- Exactly. Depending on the way it all shakes up we pretty much have no chance. Miami will have wade and one other max guy. That is a given. Its looking like Bosh at this point. The Bulls may get lebron. and the Nets and wizards have improved a lot. I dont think we will be able to compete for a while, because we are not equipped to load up on Max contracts like these other teams.

Jay

June 28th, 2010
9:45 am

Bye Bye Joe! We do not want him here! He can not be our “go to player”. We need somebody with heart. Joe needs to follow Lebron James, he would be excellent second option.

VB

June 28th, 2010
9:46 am

I say let’s make a run at Rudy Gay. If Joe goes to NY there’s no one on that roster that I would take back unless Eddy Curry is in the last year of his deal.

Michael

June 28th, 2010
9:47 am

Good riddance. The money he’s going to command is better spent elsewhere. Maybe the Hawks suffer some in the short term because of it, but they’ll be better off in the long run.

nobody

June 28th, 2010
9:47 am

Who all agrees that Al Horford should be priority one on this team? I sure do! Reward him and sign him to a long deal. He is the backbone to our team, he is a leader, he is improving, and he has shown the ability to have Amare type scoring WITH good defense.

Mark Bradley

June 28th, 2010
9:47 am

Kudos, MatthewH. And thanks.

nobody

June 28th, 2010
9:49 am

Rudy Gay- 19.6 points. 5.9 Rebounds. and 2 assists. I dont know what the grizz are willing to give him, but if we can outbid them we could have a fine player to replace joe with. If we had the money signing ray allen in this scenario would be amazing.

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JJ

June 28th, 2010
9:50 am

Do I want him to stay? In an ideal world, no. But there isn’t much choice in this scenario. The Hawks don’t have to flexibility to lose Joe and replace him with anything close to what they are losing. So I say SIGN JOE!!!

Do I think he deserves a max deal? Hell No. But again, the Hawks aren’t in a position of strength in these negotiations. And make no mistake, Joe is worth far more to than the Hawks than he is to the “market”. So my guess is that he’ll end up having to turn down a max deal (or close to it) from the Hawks if he wants to go elsewhere.

Mark Bradley

June 28th, 2010
9:51 am

About Rudy Gay: The Hawks could have drafted him in 2006. Took S. Williams instead.

JJ

June 28th, 2010
9:52 am

Doh! Should say….”And make no mistake, Joe is worth far more to the Hawks than he is to the “market”.”

Dawglasville

June 28th, 2010
9:53 am

Joe is not worth max money. Peace. Horford is the only gamer we have. Childress played that way. Josh could be trade bait. I’m sick of waiting on Marvin. I think we are about to take a big step back. I know that Chuck Daily had two Hall of Famers but we need a coach like him who can define the players roles and then draft to fit the system.

Brent

June 28th, 2010
9:54 am

Welcome back MB. Not sure there is a Plan B to be had. The Hawks need to re-sign JJ or things could get ugly.

Mark Bradley

June 28th, 2010
9:54 am

Thanks, Brent.

JMar

June 28th, 2010
9:55 am

“the team can say goodbye to winning 50 games and probably to reaching Round 2 of the playoffs.” Yes, we get that. This team will be significantly worse in the short term. But I’d rather have an organization that is all-or-nothing. (And so would this city – remember the backlash when it was clear that the Braves were putting together “safe” teams with the goal of keeping their division streak alive rather than taking a risk and having a team that might actually contend for a championship?) Sign Joe, and we’re locked into mediocrity until his contract is up – first or second round playoff team for a few years, then worse as he ages, with no hope of greatness. This doesn’t interest me. I’ll take lousy with hope over mediocre with none.

david

June 28th, 2010
9:56 am

Good riddance!
I’d rather lose games than sign someone who hates the fans & doesn’t want to be here.
His days of busting his tail for the Hawks are over.
Why sign him, they’ll get nothing but an average performance.

atlfan44

June 28th, 2010
9:56 am

Right now its sort of looking like a choice of a little above mediocrity( if Joe is resigned) or a few years of the Hawks of old.

T. Anthony

June 28th, 2010
9:56 am

We paid too much for Joe in the first instance. Max money now would be unwise.

Timmy

June 28th, 2010
9:57 am

I’d prefer that we somehow work out a sign-and-trade…perhaps to New York for David Lee (if they feel like they can get Stoudemire he may be expendable). If not, I think we should just let him go. I understand and agree with you that we will take a sizeable step backwards…but we aren’t making it any further than we have been by bringing him back nor are we adding any significant pieces. In fact we probably take a step back just due to the improvements of teams like the Bucks, Heat/Knicks, and Bulls. I’d rather just have a year of sucking and hopefully adding the missing piece after next year.

tony

June 28th, 2010
10:00 am

Sign John Salmons(SG) and Brendan Haywood(C). JJ is not a leader nor is he a team player. John Salmons will bring more energy and he will come through for you down the stretch.

Mitch

June 28th, 2010
10:00 am

The problem now is, Mark, JJ is a better fit in D’Antoni’s offense than Larry Drew’s and JJ recognizes that. D’Antoni has always given JJ the green light and that’s what he wants. Who can blame him, really?

JJ’s role with the Hawks has changed since he first arrived, as the talent around him has grown. The team no longer needs him to be Iso-Joe, as he was—so spectacularly—versus the Celtics three years ago in the playoffs.

Trading for Jamal Crawford last year was the beginning of the end because now JJ had to share the ball. Why didn’t JJ sign the Hawks’ lucrative offer last year? JJ knows his role is changing, and it’s time for him to find another team where he gets the green light and style of play he likes. Look for JJ and Amari to sign in New York and become Spike Lee’s new homeys.

The Hawks offering of the max is a moot point now and they should realize it and focus instead on what they can get in a sign and trade.

Mark, I don’t want JJ back. Not because I don’t appreciate his offensive talent. I think we all do. But, I have grown more and more annoyed by JJ’s all hands and little feet approach to defense (how many times does he foul in key situations late in games?) and his mopey, do nothing to fire up his teammates demeanor on the floor. He’s painfully subdued, and on a young team that should be bursting at the seams with enthusaism and energy the way Al Horford is, JJ is a deterrent. How many times did we hear Woody say “we came out flat”…well, put some of that on flat-face JJ himself because versus the Knicks, Golden State and other cellar dwellars, JJ would crawl through the first halfs and sometimes the whole games. I have never seen an All-Star caliber player so lethargic. You don’t see that from Kobe, do you? That’s why Kobe is hoisting trophies and JJ is hoisting the finger to an angry crowd.

atlfan44

June 28th, 2010
10:01 am

oh yea i agree Timmy there is really no chance that a team led by joe will overtake a team led by lebron, wade+other max guy, and orlando. depending on what the nets and celtics do maybe its just best we take our lumps for a year or two and hopefully build smarter.

Lee G

June 28th, 2010
10:02 am

Let the Bugger go.

SOUTH GA DAWG FAN

June 28th, 2010
10:03 am

They better re-sign JJ he is the only second tier star we have a chance at getting we have no shot at getting one of the first tier free agents . I agree with Mark if JJ goes the Hawks get bad in a hurry maybe even lottery bad. I also agree that JJ is more valuable to the hawks than he is on the open market , most teams that want him want him as a second or third option behind a superstar they have or they are going to try to sign. I dont think the hawks will offer JJ the max i think they will try to be cheap and push him on out the door

See ya, Joe

June 28th, 2010
10:05 am

Mark, in fairness, the Hawks could have drafted a team full of talented players instead of drafting Sheldon Williams. Roy and Rondo quickly come to mind.

mountain_jim

June 28th, 2010
10:05 am

I am still waiting and wanting to know who really demanded/selected Shelden Williams – so much better talent was chosen after him… I heard it was the recently departed coach who wanted a big no matter what – but whether him or the GM that was at least as bad a draft mistake as Marvin Williams, who everyone thought would be a lot better than he has turned out.

I am ambivelent about Joe – If Hawks lose him they may be worse in the short run but better in the long run – he has not proven to be worth a max deal when the game really matter.

I watched the Celtics show how playoff basketball is played – too bad Joe never could step up his game like that. I am sure some of it was bad coaching, but come on. He just has been a no-show in the playoffs and that’s where you earn your pay.

Lowcountry Bulldawg

June 28th, 2010
10:08 am

JJ at max money for the next 2-3 years is prudent. JJ for max money at 34-35 is ridiculous. If they sign JJ how will it effect longterm the ability to resign Horford in a few years?

Not Don Waddell

June 28th, 2010
10:10 am

Joe is a really good player, but if he wants max money, it will cripple the Hawks for the next decade.

Joe is clearly heading toward the downside of his career. He has been in the top 10 in minutes played for the last 6 seasons, and he has been flat-out terrible toward the end of the last 2 seasons.

Signing Joe to a reasonable deal would be great for the Hawks, but if he wants max money, he has to go. He is simply not worth it. Yes, the Hawks will take a step back next year if Joe leaves, but they will be able to build the franchise around a real leader, Al Horford, and they can make wise moves to make the team viable for the next decade.

In short, if Joe will realize his real value, and understand that he is not even close to a max player, then he will be welcomed back. If he wants a 6 year, max money deal, see ya!

Jack

June 28th, 2010
10:11 am

Atlanta is better off without him. Joe is overhyped. He is not a leader, and his stats support that he is not willing to play the “Team” game. Not sure about others, but It will be hard to cheer on a player that does not cares if the fans show up…..

Davis Double Meat

June 28th, 2010
10:13 am

Let’s hope for a sign and trade to get some talent in return for Johnson. He obviously does not want to be here.

bobby

June 28th, 2010
10:13 am

While you are correct abo9ut the Hawks getting worse in a hurry, wouldn’t signing Joe limit us to the success we have already achieved? How much better are we really going to get? We are clearly behind Orlando, Cleveland/Wherever Lebron goes, and Boston, that list os bound to grow after free agency with at least the Heat or Bulss leapfrogging us or maybe both. In order to win a championship in this league, or to seriously compete you need an all time great , Piston Championship withstanding. Kobe, Lebron, Howard, Duncan, Jordan , Magic, Bird, Isiah, Hakeem, Patrick, Reggie, ZO, all led there teams to having a decent shot at an NBA championship. All were drafted by the team that go tthem there all aside from Kobe were picked in the top 5. We had our chance at a top five pick and blew it , thanks Marvin. We know need to get back to the top of the Lottery to get that number #1 type player. I thought a trade of draft picks and Josh Smith maybe could of been enough to get up to pick Turner and watch him grow into that role. I’m a season ticket holder and life long fan, and all I want is the Hawks to be competitive and trying to get better, the only way this team will be better at the end of this Joe Johnson contract is if that contract is ending somewhere else.

mountain_jim

June 28th, 2010
10:13 am

I am interested in what sign and trade options may become available for Joe.

garcia

June 28th, 2010
10:14 am

Yes Joe should be given the max to return to Atlanta. While he is no Lebron, Wade or Kobe, he is very talented, a good defender and a stable veteran that provides calm leadership.

Despite his popularity, I think that Josh Smith should be the odd man out. He has the trade cache to bring us a big man that can help Horford.

While Marvin is a slug (and probably will be for a long time) we are stuck with his contract.

We should sign Childress and start him at SF.

These simple changes should improve our chances of going deeper into the playoffs. If JJ is allowed to leave, we may slide too far to come back. Losing a player like JJ could even cost us in the future, when Al’s contract is up.

Starting lineup:

Teague: Yes, he needs to start ahead of Bibby.
Joe : Less Iso on offense will save some energy for defense.
Childress: Reliable team player that can score.
Big Man: I have no idea who we can get for Josh, but we might be able to score a defensive PF.
Horford: I like Al at Center. With good team defense around him, he will be our foundation.

Not Don Waddell

June 28th, 2010
10:16 am

FWIW, I know that the math will not work, but I would surely be figuring out some way to trade Josh Smith for Chris Paul.

Not Don Waddell

June 28th, 2010
10:16 am

FWIW, I know that the math will not work, but I would surely be figuring out some way to trade Josh Smith for Chris Paul.

Hawks73

June 28th, 2010
10:16 am

I think we all collectively share the same sentiment that life without Joe Johnson would be very bad for us as Hawks fans and for the team itself.

The reason (as you stated correctly Mark), is that if Joe bolts for another team we have ZERO chance of replacing him (due to the embarrassment that is the ATL Spirit). The main owner/public figure (Michael Gearon) verbally stated that “they have put a winning product” on the court “public support” has been lacking…ticket sales. I find it amusing that this ownership group blames us, the fans for their reasoning and logic (as to not put a championship product on the court). I can’t imagine Arthur Blank blaming fans and using excuses to cover the Falcons lack of success/ticket sales.

I for one don’t look forward to next season and beyond. Until the Spirit sells this team to an owner that is committed to bringing an NBA championship, I will not have a whole lot of faith on this team improving and taking the “next step”.

Bruce Mac

June 28th, 2010
10:19 am

I ain’t going either way. The only thing more rediculous than 250 to 300 pound men flopping over and over is those all muscle soccer players trying to act like they are in the NBA. How does it help the appeal of a sport to have guys fall down like they are little girls and whine and cry the entire game. Don’t understand the game, don’t like the game, its is going bankrupt before it is over.

Mark Bradley

June 28th, 2010
10:20 am

I can’t, either, Hawks73.