Johnson Staying Put in Atlanta
On the first day of free agency, the Atlanta Hawks handed down their max offer for star Joe Johnson.
After visiting other teams and listening to their pitches and evaluating his options he decided to continue what he has started in Atlanta.
After going over the language of the contract, the deal is done, according Johnson's agent, Arn Tellern. The deal can not be official until Thursday, when teams can sign their free agents to contracts.
Johnson averaged 21.3 points per game in the regular season, but his play in the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Orlando Magic began to raise questions of if he was actually deserving of the maximum salary. The eyebrows in Atlanta were also raised when he turned down a $60M extension last summer, and was critical of Hawks fans during the season.
However, with the Hawks making changes at coach with the firing of Mike Woodson, and the hiring of Larry Drew, and the commitment that the Hawks would continue to fly to the new heights among the NBA elite, Johnson was impressed and reaffirmed his commitment to stay in with the team. He will now work on convincing other top talent to come to play with the Hawks and join a core that includes Mike Bibby, Josh Smith, and Al Horford, with Sixth Man of the Year Jamal Crawford coming off the bench.
Johnson joined the Hawks in 2005, and the Hawks have improved their win total ever since his arrival in a sign-and-trade with the Phoenix Suns. The Hawks went from 13 wins in 2004-05 to 53 last season, and will be looking for even more wins in the future, and to get beyond the Eastern Conference semifinals as well.