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 … )